Aged care news highlights from the week ending 24 May 2020.
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 and Critical Success Solutions.
Coronavirus / COVID-19 News
Transparency of information for consumers and their families
From 1 July, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will produce a compliance rating for quality and safety of a residential aged care service. The service compliance rating will be published on the My Aged Care website. The rating system was developed by the Department of Health in partnership with the Commission and in consultation with stakeholders, including senior Australians, their caregivers, aged care providers, and a range of peak bodies.
From July 2020, every residential aged care service will have a Service Compliance Rating in the ‘Find a Provider’ section of the My Aged Care website. The rating will allow consumers to access and compare easy-to-understand information on the quality of residential aged care services, supporting more informed decision-making.
The rating will reflect a service’s current compliance position – i.e. whether a service has a sanction or non-compliance notice and the outcome of the most recent performance assessment by the Commission against the Aged Care Quality Standards. Look out for more information in this newsletter and on our website in the coming weeks.
Short-notice site visits continue
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission continues to conduct site visits as part of its risk-based regulatory response to COVID-19. In general, these visits are undertaken at short notice (ie. providing less than 24 hours’ notice to the approved provider), noting that the Commission may also undertake unannounced visits at any time. Visits undertaken across April and May have related to infection control preparedness, as well as concerns about the quality of care and services provided to aged care consumers.
Advice on Face to Face Social Support Groups
(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, only where state and territory restrictions permit, providers may re-commence delivery of face to face social support activities with appropriate safeguards in place.
Relevant jurisdiction advice is available here:
- New South Wales
- South Australia
- Western Australia
- Australian Capital Territory
- Northern Territory
COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register
(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 Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources has been working with the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre to enhance the COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register. The COVID-19 Manufacturer Response Register is now an interactive, self-managed platform to support Australian manufacturers, suppliers and purchasers of critical medical and protective products to identify collaboration and market opportunities. The new functionality will assist in connecting Australian manufacturers along the supply chain, and with Australian customers seeking medical equipment and PPE.
Govt to pay providers for residents’ leave during COVID
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Federal Government will pay for aged care residents to take extended leave because of a public crisis so neither residents nor providers are financially disadvantaged. Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck announced amendments to aged care legislation passed on Thursday to allow aged care residents to access emergency leave during volatile situations including natural disasters and health epidemics. Permanent residents are entitled to 52 days of social leave away from their aged care home for non-hospital related reasons, after which the Government stops paying the subsidy to facilities who in turn usually pass the cost on to the residents. The emergency leave mechanism aims to avoid residents being penalised or disadvantaged for moving out of a facility during a crisis.
New COVID-19 subcontracting arrangement notification requirement for approved providers
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has created a new COVID-19 Subcontracting arrangement notification form for approved providers to complete in response to COVID-19 and aged care service delivery. It is for approved providers that engage external organisations to assist with the expansion of their existing aged care services in response to COVID-19 aged care needs. Approved providers are required to notify the Commission of changes that materially affect their suitability to provide aged care within 28 days after the change occurs. The new form and supporting web information will guide approved providers on what information they must provide to the Commission and also to consider their existing responsibilities when entering into these arrangements.
COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant
According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, as part of the COVID-19 Aged Care Support Program, the Department of Health’s COVID-19 Aged Care Support Grant will reimburse eligible aged care providers for eligible expenditure incurred in managing direct impacts of COVID-19. The Program will run over two years from 2019-20 to 2020-21. It will assist Residential Aged Care, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program and Home Care Package providers that are subject to direct COVID-19 impacts, to deliver continuity of safe, quality care for consumers.
Eligible applicants can apply for funding for each impacted service for the periods between the date on which the resident, staff member or client is tested for COVID-19 and the date on which direct COVID-19 impacts are resolved (i.e. no infected or isolated residents, staff members or clients). Eligible applicants can fill out an online application form.
Dietitians available to provide essential services virtually for residential aged care homes
According to Aged Care Insite, with necessary health measures implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) encourages residential aged care homes to embrace change to continue the delivery of health services. This comes as many accredited practising dietitians (APDs), along with other allied health professions, are unable to attend residential aged care homes to provide essential services, raising questions about the impact this will have on the health of older Australians.
RC to identify learnings of COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care royal commission’s investigation into the impact of coronavirus on aged care services will focus on the lessons to be learned rather than on finding fault. It will look at how the Anglicare Sydney, Baptistcare and Opal Aged Care facilities with outbreaks responded to the crisis and what more could have been done to support them. But it will not investigate who was to blame.
New Alzheimer’s test on its way to Australia
According to Aged Care Insite, a new blood test that could help identify Alzeimer’s disease is on its way to Australia. Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and in 2020, there is an estimated 459,000 Australians living with dementia. That number is expected to reach 590,000 by 2028 and 1,076,000 by 2058. A new study in Lancet Neurology shows that the test accurately measures one of the proteins – P-tau181 – implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. The protein is one of the markers of the disease along with the plaque caused by the protein amyloid β. Up until now, discovering these proteins could only be done through expensive PET scans, invasive lumbar punctures, or autopsy. The test is being introduced to Australia by the Australian Dementia Network, which is supported by the University of Melbourne.
Tools help CALD PCAs communicate with residents
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new evidence-based training program aims to support personal care assistants from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to better connect with aged care recipients during everyday interactions. The training materials have been developed from authentic interactions between highly-skilled personal care assistants from CALD backgrounds and aged care recipients. They come from The Little Things project, which was led by the Farnham Street Neighbourhood Learning Centre in partnership with spiritual care in aged care peak body Meaningful Ageing Australia and is funded from the Victorian Government.
Project investigating mental health in aged care
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new Flinders University study is exploring the barriers to older people accessing mental health services. The five-year study Meeting psychological needs to improve the quality and safety of aged care is funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council and Medical Futures Research Fund Investigator grant. In addition to exploring barriers to accessing mental health services, the research will investigate innovative strategies to improve the quality and safety of aged care. Lead researcher Dr Monica Cations said the study would examine ways to improve the psychological and emotional wellbeing of aged care recipients.
Clinic launches free aged care telehealth counselling
According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new national service provides free counselling to aged care residents, their families and facility staff via telephone of video calls. The Telehealth Counselling and Support Service for Residential Aged Care has been developed by Swinburne University of Technology’s Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults. It was launched last Friday after a month-long trial in seven aged care facilities. The service expands the face-to-face psychology and mental health services Swinburne’s Wellbeing Clinic for Older Adults has offered to aged care residents for 10 years.
Protecting older people from the risks of polypharmacy
According to Community Care Review, simply educating older people about the importance of safe medicine taking isn’t enough to protect them against the risks of polypharmacy, a review has found. Instead, education needs to be backed up with behavioural interventions such as the use of alarms, dose administration aids and changes to medication regimens, the Cochrane Library review by Monash University researchers found.
Health (Drugs and Poisons) Amendment Regulation 2020 (No. 74 of 2020) (Qld) – commenced 18 May 2020
On 26 March 2020, the Australian Government introduced telehealth arrangements that are intended to allow pharmaceutical benefits to be paid for some restricted (Schedule 4) drugs dispensed by pharmacists on receipt of a digital image of a prescription from a prescriber. This has been achieved by the National Health (COVID-19 Supply of Pharmaceutical Benefits) Special Arrangement 2020 (the Special Arrangement).
The telehealth arrangements are one way to streamline health service delivery and reduce physical contact for vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 response. Amendments to the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (HDPR) are necessary to implement these arrangements, which will strengthen Queensland’s capacity to contain and respond to the spread of COVID-19 within the community and to reduce administrative burden on healthcare providers during the pandemic. Section 193 of the HDPR requires that restricted (Schedule 4) drugs be dispensed on the presentation of a valid prescription written by an authorised prescriber. A valid prescription includes:
- a paper prescription (handwritten or computer generated) (section 190);
- an electronic prescription (section 190);
- a faxed prescription (section 192AA requires that a faxed prescription be confirmed by the prescriber telephoning the dispenser within 24 hours and followed up with the original paper prescription within 7 days); or
- an oral prescription (section 192 requires that an oral prescription given to a dispenser be followed up by a paper prescription sent by facsimile transmission within 24 hours and then sent by post or hand to the dispenser within 7 days).
The HDPR restricts transmission of a paper prescription to a dispenser by allowing for facsimile transmission only. There is a need to urgently modernise the legislation to allow for digital images of paper prescriptions to be sent via other types of electronic communication, such as an email, to allow for the Special Arrangement. Changes are also required to reduce the burden on prescribers and dispensers by temporarily easing the requirement for the prescriber to send a paper prescription to the dispenser within 7 days for restricted drugs where there is a low risk of abuse or illicit use.
Resources and Upcoming Events
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.
2nd Governance in Aged Care Conference – 20-21 May 2020, Doltone House Hyde Park Sydney (Live Stream Online)
According to Criterion Conferences, the 2nd Governance in Aged Care conference has been developed in partnership with COTA Australia and ACSA to support you to effectively lead and govern your aged care service into the future. You will walk away with a deeper understanding of what good governance structures and culture looks like in practice, and how you could apply this to your own organisation.
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
- 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
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.
Calculating residential accommodation payments in a leap year
This year is a leap year, with 366 days instead of 365. The Department of Health has received queries from approved providers of residential care seeking advice on how to calculate a daily accommodation payment (DAP) in a leap year. The calculators specified in the Fees and Payments Principles 2014 (No. 2) (the Principles) refer to 365 days for working out:
- the DAP (or contribution) equivalent to a refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) (or contribution)
- the amount of interest on a RAD (or contribution) balance or accommodation bond balance.
Even though 2020 is a leap year, residential care providers should continue to use 365 days when calculating DAP amounts and the interest payable on refunds of lump sum deposits. But please be aware that daily payments and daily contributions are payable for 366 days in 2020.
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.
Quality Indicators (QIs) pilot – specific service types invited to participate
The Department of Health has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to assist in the development and pilot to trial the new QIs relating to:
- medication management
- falls and fractures.
To ensure the pilot captures the views and experiences of residential aged care services nationally, the department would like to strongly encourage the following services to take part:
- Services operating in Queensland or remote areas
- Smaller services (less than 50 residential aged care places)
- Previous QI Program pilot participants
- Private (for profit) or State Government services.
Participation in the pilot is an opportunity for your service to trial and provide feedback on these indicators ahead of the implementation of the additional QIs from 1 July 2021. The pilot will commence in February 2020, please register your interest by 27 January 2020.
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?