Tips For Engaging with the Aged Care Royal Commission's Final Report

The final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is set to be published by this Friday, 26 February 2021. The report will be a massive document containing many complex recommendations and insights into how the industry is likely to change over the coming years.

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Weekly Wrap: 23 February 2021

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Weekly Wrap: 23 February 2021

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 23 February 2021, aggregated by CompliSpace.

The information in the Weekly Wrap is aggregated from other news sources to provide you with news that is relevant to the aged care sector across Australia and worldwide. Each paragraph is a summary of the subject matter covered in the particular news article. The information does not necessarily reflect the views of CompliSpace.


Coronavirus / COVID-19 News

Aged care COVID vaccinations start next week

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, around 30,000 aged care residents and staff are expected to receive a coronavirus jab next week when the government kicks off the mass vaccination program. More than 142,000 Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Australia on Monday ready for distribution after the Therapeutic Goods Administration completes safety checks and batch testing. The government has announced a rollout of 80,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine is on track to start on Monday 22 February. It includes 30,000 doses for aged care residents and staff at 240 aged care facilities in the first week of the rollout, said Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt.

 

New information on obtaining and recording consent and preparing sites ahead of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

The Department of Health has published new information—a readiness toolkitto our website for residential aged care facilities about preparing for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines and obtaining and recording consent for residents.

Residential aged care facilities should familiarise yourselves with this information and start planning. You can also share the relevant information below with residents and their families, carers and loved ones.

The COVID-19 vaccination program commences in aged care facilities from late February. It will take a number of months to roll-out the full vaccination program.

The following resources are now available for residential aged care facilities:

  • Planning checklist for vaccination day
  • Consent process flow-chart
  • Site readiness checklist
  • Clinical governance requirements
  • Consent in the residential aged care context

The following information is also available for facilities, workers, residents and their families, carers and loved ones:

  • Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine
  • Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination
  • What to expect before, and on, the day of vaccination
  • After your COVID-19 vaccination
  • Consent form

Information about reporting adverse events will be available soon along with more resources for providers, workers and residents.

More information and support

We encourage you to visit the Department of Health’s information for aged care providers and workers page on our COVID-19 vaccines website for up to date information. You can also subscribe to receive the COVID-19 vaccine updates.

For advice on how to best support residents living with dementia or cognitive impairment, you can contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 (Monday-Friday 8:00am-8:00pm).

 

Vaccine rollout may face delays

According to Hospital and Healthcare, despite global effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine in record time, international vaccination programs are being hindered by — sometimes simple — logistical issues, new reports have revealed. Insufficient manufacturing infrastructure and incorrect handling after dispatch are creating supply shortfalls and wastage around the world, at a time when urgency is critical.

 

AstraZeneca becomes second COVID vaccine to get TGA approval

According to Aged Care Insite, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted provisional approval for the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. In a statement, TGA said Australians can be confident that the regulator’s review process was rigorous and of the highest standard. It was approved for any person over the age of 18.

 

IPC lead training deadline approaching

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health: thank you to the 90% of residential aged care facilities who have reported in My Aged Care their nominated nursing staff member to complete specialist training and become an infection prevention and control (IPC) lead. The program is critical to safeguarding the health of both residents and workers in residential aged care.

IPC leads are required to complete specialist IPC training by 28 February 2021. We would like to remind providers that:

  • meeting the IPC lead requirement is a responsibility for each facility. To enable nurses to successfully complete this training, providers should be providing dedicated study hours, study leave or other support as needed in discussion with each nurse.
  • providers should ensure that information reported through the My Aged Care provider portal is updated by 10 March 2021 and kept up to date. This includes changing the completion status of the specialist training to completed once the IPC lead has submitted the coursework and assessments.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) will monitor the implementation of the IPC leads requirement in its consideration of each facility’s performance against the Aged Care Quality Standards. They have released a factsheet with further information.

For further information on IPC leads visit the department’s website.

 

Updated online information for aged care during COVID-19

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, we have recently published updated and improved COVID-19 advice for aged care providers, aged care workers and people who receive residential or home care to our website.

Information includes:

  • The National COVID-19 Aged Care Plan
  • How to prepare for and respond to a COVID-19 outbreak
  • Advice for older people, carers, workers and services
  • Visitor restrictions
  • Translated resources.

Visit our new Advice on aged care during COVID-19 webpage.

We have also recently published information on COVID-19 vaccines for aged care on our COVID-19 vaccines webpage.

 

Western Australian update for visitors to RACFs

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, the Western Australian Government has updated their advice for residential aged care facilities in Western Australia (Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions No. 6).

Effective immediately, the updated directions apply to all residential aged care facilities in the affected areas of Perth and Peel. The major changes include that a person may now enter a residential aged care facility of an affected area if:

  • the person's presence at the premises is for the purposes of a care and support visit to a resident of the residential aged care facility on a particular day; or
  • the person's presence at the premises is required for the purposes of performing a Commonwealth aged care regulatory function.

If you have returned from overseas or been informed you are a close contact in the last 14 days or you have any symptoms you must still not enter a residential aged care facility.

All residential aged care facilities outside of Perth and Peel are to follow Visitors to Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions No.4.

Aged Care Providers are reminded to stay up to date with advice and Directions on the Western Australian Government website and to check for these updates regularly.

 

Updated NSW directions for aged care providers and visitors

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, NSW Health advice for both Residential Aged Care Facilities and Home Care Service Providers has been updated as of 12 February 2021. Aged care providers are encouraged to ensure they read the full advice.

  • For RACFs this advice can be found here.
  • For Home Care Service Providers this advice can be found here.

NSW Areas of Concern

There are restrictions for visitors, staff and residents of RACFs who have been to any of the locations on the close contact or casual contact list in the past 14 days.

There are no areas of increased testing in NSW.

Interstate and overseas

Restrict access for people who have been to:

All staff and visitors must wear a surgical mask inside RACFs.

Residents of RACFs located in Greater Sydney can now have five visitors a day.

 

Updated QLD directions for aged care providers and visitors

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, in Queensland, Aged Care Direction (No.23) came into effect at 7.30pm on 4 February.

Updates include:

  • Anyone who has been in Greater Melbourne on or after 29 January 2021 cannot enter a residential aged care facility unless 14 days have passed since you were in Greater Melbourne.
  • You may enter a residential aged care facility if you have been in Greater Melbourne on or after 29 January 2021 if you obtain a negative COVID-19 test and are:
    • an employee, contractor, or student of the facility
    • providing goods or services necessary for the facility’s operation
    • providing health, medical, personal care or pharmaceutical or pathology services to a resident
    • required for emergency management, law enforcement or to comply with a power or function of a government agency or entity
    • a prospective resident or a support person of a prospective resident
    • maintaining continuity of care for a resident that can’t be delivered by non-contact means – with permission of the facility’s operator
    • attending for an end of life visit.
      You may be requested to provide evidence of the negative COVID-19 test when entering the facility.
  • If you have been in a public exposure site as listed by the Victorian Government you cannot enter a residential aged care facility in Queensland for any purpose unless you have an exemption for an end of life visit. You must get a COVID-19 test and quarantine for 14 days.

Updated SA directions for aged care providers and visitors

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, in South Australia, the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 29) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 came into effect on 12:01am on 11 February 2021.

No person who has travelled from any place other than a low community transmission zone in the last 14 days is permitted to enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility in South Australia.

See the South Australian Interstate Traveller section for more information, or visit the Cross-border travel page for information on specific prohibited locations and exemptions.

 

Updated ACT directions for visitors to RACFs

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, ACT Health updated advice for visitors to aged care facilities as reflected in the ACT Public Health (Residential Aged Care Facilities) Emergency Direction 2021 (No 2).

From 11:59 on 7 February 2021:

  • There are no restrictions on the number of visitors a resident can have at any one time.
  • There are no restrictions on the duration of a welfare or wellbeing visit or on the number of welfare or wellbeing visitors a resident can have at any one time. A welfare or wellbeing visit is a visit made to one or more residents of a residential aged care facility for the purposes of providing welfare or wellbeing services.

 

OPAN COVID-19 vaccine webinar and Q&A

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) hosted a webinar on 4 February to discuss COVID-19 vaccination and provide information to help senior Australians make an informed decision about being vaccinated.

You can watch and share the webinar replay from the OPAN website.

 

National review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian RACFs

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, as advised in last week’s update, the review will be conducting an online survey and a series of online workshops to provide insights, based on local outbreak management experiences.

The survey is currently being finalised in conjunction with The University of Sydney and is expected to be released to Residential Aged Care Facilities later in February.

Workshops are now scheduled for the first and second week in March when the reviewers will engage with a cross section of representatives of Approved Providers. An invitation to register for one of the workshops will be sent directly to Approved Providers in the next few days.

 

Community Volunteer Visitors entry into residential aged care facilities

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, all aged care providers are asked to ensure aged care residents are able to see family and friends, including volunteer visitors from the Community Visitors Scheme, where it is safe to do so.

According to the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 ‘It is also important while some facilities are not permitting general volunteers to return to their duties, that residents maintain access to the Community Visitors Scheme.’

State and territory governments have established directives that set out requirements for visitors and entry into residential aged care facilities.

The directions are available on the following websites:

 

New COVID info line for CALD seniors

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Centre for Cultural Diversity in Ageing has launched a series of support lines to help older Australians receive important updates about the pandemic and aged care information in their first language. The Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line offers support in Greek, Arabic, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese and Italian.

 

Other News

Aged care alliance targets marginal electorates

According to Community Care Review, the aged care industry’s peak bodies have united to launch a campaign that aims to use the power of senior voters in key marginal seats to drive the Australian Parliament to implement reform. The ‘It’s Time to Care about Aged Care’ campaign, which includes television advertising, targets 15 marginal electorates where over 800,000 older Australians live. The campaign is an initiative of the Australian Aged Care Collaboration, a new alliance of six aged care peak bodies representing 1,000 organisations who deliver 70 per cent of government-subsidised aged care services to 1.3 million Australians. The AACC is calling for an urgent overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and resourcing of aged care so older people can get the services they need and deserve.

Read the It’s time to care about aged care report here.

 

SIRS legislation passes, but guidance unavailable

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, an aged care peak body has expressed concerns about the scope of incidents and lack of information for the sector’s new incident reporting scheme less than six weeks before its due to start. Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said the peak body supported measures to improve quality and safety in aged care homes, but has concerns about the Serious Incident Response Scheme’s model.

 

Awaiting the Royal Commission's final report

According to Hospital and Healthcare, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will submit its Final Report on 26 February 2021, marking the culmination of two years of inquiry into the state of Australia’s aged-care sector. The completion of this gargantuan undertaking will provide recommendations for comprehensive reform and significant transformations within Australia’s aged-care sector. We are potentially (and hopefully) on the cusp of a revolution in our aged-care system. So what can we expect?

 

Responses to Counsel Assisting’s Final Submissions

According to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, in the Final Hearing Senior Counsel Assisting, Peter Gray QC and Peter Rozen QC, presented oral and written submissions on behalf of the Counsel Assisting team over two days. The written submissions included 124 proposed recommendations and an annexure on the timing of implementation of these proposed recommendations. Responses to Counsel Assisting’s final submissions were invited following the hearing, to address the recommendations and a number of additional matters raised. Submissions closed on 12 November 2020. Set out below is a selection of these submissions that were received.

 

Peaks warn about RC home care targets

According to Community Care Review, as the aged care royal commission prepares to hand down its final report, peak industry bodies have declined to give their full support to recommendations to eliminate the home care waiting list contained in Counsel Assisting’s final submissions last year. Among the recommendations is a proposed target of allocating a home care package to each of the more than 100,000 people on the waiting list by the end of this year and capping wait times at one month by July 2024. Both Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) Leading Age Service Australia (LASA) have given the recommendation in principle support only, saying it will place significant pressure on providers and could compromise quality of care.

 

Free trial of PainChek® tool: three months left to sign up

(Note: this excerpt is from the Department of Health newsletter. We cannot provide a link to the full version of this story until the Department of Health uploads it to their website.)

According to the Department of Health, the Australian Government is funding a 12 month national trial of the PainChek® pain assessment tool for residential aged care providers. The tool aims to improve pain diagnosis and management in residents with dementia.

More than 900 Australian residential aged care facilities are already benefiting from the use of PainChek®, a medical device in the form of an App for smartphones. The App uses artificial intelligence to assess pain levels in residents who are unable to communicate, including those with dementia.

There are only three months left to sign up to the 12 month free trial. You can complete your expression of interest on the PainChek® website.

 

Legislation

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Serious Incident Response Scheme and Other Measures) Bill 2020 [CTH] – passed 15 February 2021

This Bill amends the Aged Care Act 1997 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 to introduce a Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) for residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting.

The SIRS introduced by the Bill is similar to the incident management and disclosure protection scheme added to the National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 in 2017, with amendments to address specific needs of aged care.

The SIRS will replace current responsibilities of approved providers of residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting (approved provider) in relation to reportable assaults and unexplained absences in the Aged Care Act. The Bill will require approved providers to manage incidents and take reasonable steps to prevent incidents, including through implementing and maintaining effective organisation-wide governance systems for management and reporting of incidents of abuse and neglect.

The Bill will also require approved providers of residential care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting to report all serious incidents to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

The Bill will also strengthen protections for people who disclose incidents of abuse or neglect in aged care.

The Bill will also expand the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s (Commission’s) powers to enforce the requirements of the SIRS and the responsibilities of approved providers and related offences more generally.

 

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 2) Act 2021 (No. 2 of 2021) [CTH] – commenced 16 February 2021

The purpose of the Act is to improve the administration arrangements of paying home care subsidy to approved providers.

Approved providers are currently required to provide a monthly statement to their home care recipients that shows the care recipient’s available funds, how the funds are being spent (i.e. care and services delivered) and the amount of unspent funds. The measures in the Act improve financial accountability and allow for better transparency over the actual use of funds for home care service delivery by requiring approved providers to also report to the Commonwealth the cost of care and services delivered to the home care recipient each month in order for the subsidies to be paid to the approved provider.

Currently, approved providers hold and manage any accumulated unspent funds (both Commonwealth subsidy and consumer contributions) that may arise over time on behalf of the home care recipient if the cost of the care and services they access is less than the sum of their home care fees and subsidies paid by the Commonwealth. Once the measures in the Act commence, the Commonwealth will retain, on behalf of care recipients, the Commonwealth subsidy that may be in excess of the services provided, to be drawn down in future.

 

Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2020 Measures No. 2) Bill 2020 [CTH] – passed 18 February 2021

The Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2020 Measures No. 2) Bill 2020 makes a number of amendments to the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act).

These amendments:

improve the availability of prescription medicines during medicine shortages by allowing pharmacists (within safety parameters) to substitute a different medicine for one that has been prescribed for a person in Australia, where there is a serious scarcity of the prescribed medicine;

allow the making of regulations to establish a unique device identification database and related requirements for the improved traceability and monitoring of medical devices in Australia;

enable APS employees in the Department of Health to obtain, possess or convey goods for the purposes of identifying if the Act or regulations have been complied with, without contravening a law of (in particular) a State, the Australian Capital Territory or the Northern Territory;

allow the making of regulations to prohibit the import, export, supply or manufacture of therapeutic goods that are prohibited under international agreements that Australia has ratified (in practice, in relation to the prohibition or restriction of substances that are associated with particular safety concerns);

remove a potential impediment to the timely availability of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia by enabling the Secretary to consent to the importation and supply of registered or listed therapeutic goods (which would, in relation to registration, include any COVID-19 vaccines that are given marketing approval) that do not have their registration or listing number on the label;

improve the flexibility of the data protection scheme for assessed listed medicines to further encourage innovation and investment in Australia’s complementary medicines industry; and

make a number of minor amendments, principally to support timely access to therapeutic goods, improve consistency or make other more minor amendments and corrections.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

10th Annual Australian Healthcare Week - 17th - 18th of March 2021 at the International Convention Centre, Sydney.

According to IPC Events, don’t miss your chance to be part of Australia’s largest healthcare event and join the Australian Healthcare community for two days of extensive networking and learning and development opportunities.
Please note, Australian Healthcare Week will operate in accordance with our COVID-Safety Plan and in line with the guidance of NSW Health and the International Convention Centre (ICC), Sydney.

 

Webinar series: Changes to regulatory arrangements for residential aged care providers supporting NDIS participants from 1 December 2020

According to the Department of Health, Residential Aged Care (RAC) providers supporting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants will need to be registered* with the NDIS Commission from 1 December 2020. This also applies to RAC providers who start supporting NDIS participants after 1 December 2020. *Note that registration will be automatic for RAC providers with NDIS participants as at 1 December 2020.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is currently delivering a series of webinars to help RAC providers with the transition and to understand their responsibilities.

 

Flu vaccination poster

The Department of Health has issued this Flu Vaccination Poster. Residential aged care facilities may wish to display the attached poster at entrances, to alert anyone entering the facility of the flu vaccination requirements that came into effect on 1 May 2020.

 

Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line

According to The Department of Health, a new Older Person’s COVID-19 Support Line has been set up to provide information, support and check on older Australians during the period of social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. COTA Australia, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and the Older Person’s Advocacy Network have banded together to deliver this service with support from the Australian Government.

Senior Australians, their families and carers can freecall 1800 171 866 if they:

  • would like to talk with someone about what COVID-19 means for them or a loved one
  • are feeling lonely or distressed
  • are caring for a someone and need some information or a listening ear about what COVID-19 means for your circumstances
  • are worried about COVID-19 means for their usual aged care service
  • are worried about a friend or family member living with dementia.
  • are unable to access information on the internet and would like up-to-date advice.

Home care services providers can also use the number and dial option 1 to refer home care clients who would like a call from an independent organisation to check on their wellbeing.

The service will include outbound and inbound calls to provide contact, reassurance and practical advice on connecting to services to maximise social engagement and wellbeing whilst at home.

 

Resources on diverse population groups are now available for aged care staff

According to The Department of Health, The End of Life Directions for Aged Care (ELDAC) website helps you to care for older Australians at the end of life. Our new diversity resources can help health workers and aged care staff to care for:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
  • Care leavers
  • Carers
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse people
  • Financially or socially disadvantaged people
  • People experiencing homelessness
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
  • People living in rural and remote areas
  • People with spirituality and faith beliefs
  • Veterans

How people think about death, dying and end of life is different for each person. Learning about these differences can help you to provide good palliative care. Access these resources on the Diverse Population Groups page of the ELDAC website.

 

What Matters Most – New person centred care resources

According to The Department of Health, Palliative Care Australia, through a Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund grant, has launched a suite of resources to encourage early conversations about What Matters Most to older people, their care and their end of life preferences.

 

6 steps for safe prescribing antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care

Issued by the Department of Health, this infographic outlines the 6 steps for safe prescribing antipsychotics and benzodiazepines in residential aged care.

 

Aged care video alert: Dignity of risk

According to Lexology, the concept of dignity of risk is not entirely new, however it now has a position of prominence in aged care with the Aged Care Quality Standards. In this video update, senior associate Dr Melanie Tan explains:

  • What does dignity of risk mean?
  • Where and when does dignity of risk apply?
  • What is the duty of care within dignity of risk?
ACE Editorial Team
ABOUT THE AUTHOR | ACE Editorial Team
ACE is published by CompliSpace and Critical Success Solutions. CompliSpace is an Australian company that specialises in helping organisations manage their legal and regulatory obligations. Critical Success Solutions is an Australian company that specialises in helping Aged Care and Disability Services manage their regulatory and legal requirements.

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