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Weekly Wrap: 24 November 2019

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Weekly Wrap: 24 November 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 24 November 2019.

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.

Residents have more antipsychotics, GP visits but fewer hospitalisations

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, people in residential aged care are much more likely to have antipsychotic medications than those receiving aged care and support services in the home, a new report from the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare shows. The report found that 28 per cent of aged care residents had at least one antipsychotic dispensed compared to 8 per cent of home care and 4 per cent of home support clients. Residents living in government-run aged care facilities were the most likely to have one antipsychotic dispensed (33-36 per cent) followed by those living in privately-owned facilities (28-32 per cent) and residents living in not-for-profit run aged care facilities (26-27 per cent).


Treasurer warns of ageing ‘economic time bomb’

According to Aged Care Insite, treasurer Josh Frydenberg is concerned Australia’s ageing population is an “economic time bomb” for the national economy. He wants older Australians to work for longer to help keep the nation afloat. However, Labor accused the treasurer of simply wanting to keep workers chained to their tools and desks “until they drop”. Advocacy group National Seniors Australia also suggested Frydenberg could be unintentionally engaging in ageism by implying older people were a burden. Frydenberg called for a boost to workforce participation rates for over-65s in an attempt to grow an economy saddled with debt.


Attorney-General puts faith-based hospitals and aged care legislation on agenda

According to The New Daily, Christian Porter wants faith-based hospitals and aged care homes to have the same rights as schools to hire and fire on the basis of religion. The Attorney-General outlined the proposed change on Wednesday, arguing it would ensure aged care homes and hospitals can make staffing decisions to maintain “the religious ethos and culture of the organisation”. Mr Porter suggested it was more about allowing positive discrimination, not banning religious workers from getting jobs. “We don’t want people refused a job because they’re Catholic or Islamic faith or whatever their faith may be,” he told ABC TV. “You need to have an exemption so that churches and religious organisations can prefer people over their own faith.”


Accreditation college launched for care workers

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the head of a Melbourne training organisation has set up a member-based registration and professional development scheme for aged care workers. The Australian College of Care Workers (ACCW) has been founded by Janet Lawrence, chief executive officer of Registered Training Organisation the Australasian Lawrence Aged Care College Health College Australia. Ms Lawrence, who is also a registered nurse and director of ACCW, said the scheme has been developed for professional care workers to:

  • provide a registration platform for workers in the care sector
  • set minimum standards of practice for care workers;
  • establish a system of Continuous Professional Development (CPD).


No link between statins and memory loss: research

According to Aged Care Insite, a new Australian study has found that, contrary to popular belief, cholesterol lowering drugs statins do not cause memory loss and may in fact slow cognitive decline. More than 1,000 elderly individuals were assessed over a period of six years by researchers at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), UNSW Sydney. Statins are widely prescribed to people with heart disease or high cholesterol to reduce the risk of future heart disease events but partly due to reports of cognitive decline “up to half the individuals prescribed statin therapy do not fill their prescription,” said first author Professor Katherine Samaras. “We carried out the most comprehensive analysis of cognition in elderly statin users to date and found no results to support that cholesterol-lowering statins cause memory impairment,” she said.


Recommended vaccinations for older people extend beyond the flu jab

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, with such a heavy focus on the importance of receiving the annual flu jab, it is easy to forget the importance of older people being up to date with all vaccinations. As part of the National Immunisation Program there are several vaccinations that are recommended for people over the age of 65 and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 50. Vaccinations are recommended for:

  • pneumococcal infection
  • shingles
  • diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough.


Older people reluctant to seek mental health support

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, older Australians must be armed with more information on how to identify mental health issues and how to access help if they need it, says a psychologist who has studied help-seeking trends among seniors. The majority of older people have a chronic health problem, which makes them more at risk of having a mental health issue. Yet many are reluctant to seek the relevant support, often because they don’t see the point. Chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease including asthma, and Type 2 diabetes affect 80 per cent of older Australians. But more than 40 per cent of seniors with a chronic health issue would be unlikely to seek help for mental health conditions if they needed it, according to research from Edith Cowan University (ECU).


Staff attracted by opportunities to form bonds, develop career

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, aged care workers are in the sector to build relationships and have job security or because there are no other options, the findings of a new study show. Co-chief investigator Professor Lily Xiao said some participants indicated they work in the sector because they can create relationships with residents and fellow staff members. “People who said ‘we like to help people’ also said ‘aged care is the right job for them’,” Professor Xiao said.


Boosting workforce capability key to addressing aged care challenges

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the future aged care workforce needs to have compassion, knowledge on complex issues and access to career-long learning, an expert tells an aged care forum. Industry, advocates and academics came together this week to discuss workforce issues and the use of restraints in aged care at a Future Social Service Institute and Office of the Public Advocate event. FSSI is a collaboration between RMIT and the Victorian Council for Social Service.


New videos support aged care discussions

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new video series has been launched to encourage and help people talk with their loved ones about accessing residential aged care services. The six-episode series and campaign Unspoken Truths has been launched by South Australian aged care provider Helping Hand. It focuses on a family embracing the tough conversations about the older members accessing care services and the message ‘we hear you’. It also shows individual perspectives and experiences of family members about ageing and aged care. Helping Hand CEO Chris Stewart said the videos aimed to encourage families and loved ones to talk about aged care services.


What are your options if you're elderly and need care?

The Sydney Morning Herald provides this helpful “explainer” that describes the practical options for Australians who need help with everyday living as they age.


I spent five years speaking with people in nursing homes. This is what I learnt about loneliness

According to ABC News, one in six Australians feel lonely, and a third of Australians say loneliness is a problem for them, according to the ABC's Australia Talks National Survey of 54,000 people. Twenty-four per cent of respondents say they go a day or more without talking to another person; that experience is more likely for people over 50. But are we all on the same page about just what loneliness is?



Nothing in the news this week.


Resources and Upcoming Events

Material change form revision and key personnel

On 28 October 2019, the Department of Health updated the Notification of a Material Change Form. This update:

  • removed the direction not to report key personnel
  • added fields to collect third party information
  • updated existing fields to make them more specific
  • revised the privacy notice.

From late 2016, the department advised that key personnel did not generally need to be reported (except in relation to disqualified individuals). The department now considers that changes in key personnel may be material to a provider’s suitability and as a result will need to be reported.

The department is now seeking updates of key personnel information to ensure records are accurate in relation to the current state for approved providers. Providers are encouraged to review their circumstances, including arrangements with third party organisations, and notify the department where they consider it is a material change to previous operations.


Workforce Submissions – due by 6 December 2019

Following the third Melbourne hearing, which focused on workforce issues, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is seeking written submissions on policy issues relating to a number of workforce issues, including staffing levels, registration schemes for non-clinical staff, remuneration and working conditions, training and governance.

To make a submission follow the link above to the Commission’s website.


Online claiming for Aged Care providers is changing

The Department of Human Services is developing a new Aged Care Provider Portal. The new portal will be a secure place for aged care providers to access our online services and make claims for aged care subsidies and supplements. It will eventually replace two current systems – Aged Care Online Services for Home Care and the Aged Care Online Claiming System for Residential Care. The portal will be similar to the current portals but with some improved features to make it easier to use. The new portal will also introduce a more secure authentication and log in method using Provider Digital Access (PRODA). To access the new portal individuals will need to sign up for PRODA. If your users don’t already have a PRODA account, they should register for one now in preparation. The Department will let you know when it’s time to switch over to the new Aged Care Provider Portal.


Material change form update

The Department of Health has made updates to the material change form to make it clearer what information you need to provide when submitting a change, including in relation to third parties. Approved providers are required to notify any change of circumstance that materially affects their suitability to be a provider of aged care within 28 days of the change occurring. For example, if the approved provider is unable to manage its financial responsibilities or goes into external administration, makes substantial changes to its organisational or governance structure or has a change in key personnel. The form is now available on the department’s website.


Summary page in the My Aged Care portals

According to The Department of Health, the new and improved Client Summary page is available on the My Aged Care portals and now includes a tracker for each client’s journey. This is available to all providers, assessors and clients using the portals. For providers and assessors, the tracker means you will be able to quickly see what stage a client is at in their journey.


Accounting and Business Advisory Services now available

According to The Department of Health, residential and home care service providers can now apply for free independent business advisory services to help them review their operations and provide advice on business management and financial strategies. The services are intended to target providers at risk from financial stress such as providers operating in rural and remote locations and smaller providers. PricewaterhouseCoopers will deliver the independent advisory services with services available until 30 June 2021. Service providers can apply to access the business advisory via The Department of Health’s website.


New Aged Care Means Assessment Forms

The Department of Human Services (DHS) has released the new Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care (SA486) digital form. Your clients can fill it in online, print and sign it and send it to DHS with their supporting documents. The digital form uses dynamic questions tailored to the customers’ individual circumstances.


Managing Dignity of Risk Challenges in Residential Aged Care WORKSHOP – various locations across Vic and NSW in October and November 2019

According to The Communiques, this essential workshop is designed for executives, senior managers, clinicians and relevant personnel to provide a systematic approach to examining the issues of how to manage risks for older residents living in residential aged care facilities. Balancing staff and organizational responsibilities of duty of care with the residents’ rights and choice in Dignity of Risk. For more information, including times and locations of workshops, follow the link above and download the full program.


OPAN event: Understanding the New Charter of Aged Care Rights – 25 and 26 November 2019, South Australia

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) invites you to a free interactive educational event in South Australia for consumers, carers and families, and providers. The event will cover the rights in the Charter and its benefits, implementation requirements and implementing the Charter in Home Care and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.

Event locations and start times:

Port Pirie - John Pirie Motor Inn

25 November, 2pm – 4pm ACDT

Victor Harbor - McCracken Country Club

26 November, 2pm – 4pm ACDT


Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce – 3-5 December 2019, Melbourne

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, after two successful events in Sydney, the Strengthening the Aged Care Workforce conference will be taking place on the 3rd - 5th December 2019 in Melbourne for the first time. Designed in partnership with COTA Australia & ACSA, this conference will bring together industry leaders to discuss how service providers can train, support and guide their workforce through the changes taking place in this sector.


Online survey open: National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program – open until 5 December 2019

The Department of Health has engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to help develop two new quality indicators (QIs):

  • falls and fractures
  • medication management.

Aged care providers, consumers and their representatives, experts and peak bodies are all invited to complete the online survey about the two new QIs, as well as providing feedback on the existing indicators: pressure injuries, use of physical restraint and unplanned weight loss.

The online survey is open until 5 December 2019.


Clinical Care and Quality in Home Care Seminar – Thursday 5 December 2019, Sydney

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, this seminar will provide attendees with practical, easy to implement ideas and strategies in their workplace in the area of clinical care provision. This seminar will provide you with many resources and tools. There will be industry expert speakers to provide additional advice and experience. There will be a strong focus on what EVIDENCE might be required during an audit by the ACQSC assessors. A USB with extensive resources will be provided to all attendees. Target audience: Managers, Quality Officers, Co-ordinators, Case Managers, Care Managers, Registered Nurses, New Providers.


OPAN Event: Understanding the New Charter of Aged Care Rights – Tasmania 9 and 10 December 2019

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is hosting a free interactive educational event in Tasmania for consumers, carers and families, and providers. It covers key information on the rights in the Charter and its benefits, implementation requirements and implementing the Charter in Home Care and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. The event is on in Devonport at 2pm 9 December and Launceston at 10.30am on 10 December.


Dementia as a Disability Webinar – 12 December 2019, 1.00pm-2.00pm AEDT

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, this webinar will discuss dementia as a disability, the impact of the Royal Commission and the escalating call for change.


Provide feedback on proposals to clarify additional service fee arrangements in residential aged care – submissions due by 17 December 2019

The Department of Health is seeking written submissions responding to its consultation paper on proposed measures to improve clarity around additional service fees charged in residential aged care homes by 17 December 2019. Follow the link to see options for how you can have your say.


Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit – 17-20 February 2020, Sydney

Criterion Conferences would like to personally invite you to the Women in Healthcare Leadership Summit taking place from the 17th-20th February 2020. This is your chance to gain real advice from real healthcare leaders to learn not only how to survive in the industry, but truly thrive as a leader.

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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