Four Practical Things Aged Care Providers Can Do Right Now in Response to the Royal Commission’s Interim Report

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you would have heard something about the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. And it probably wasn’t good news.

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Weekly Wrap: 3 November 2019

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Weekly Wrap: 3 November 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 3 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.


Aged care royal commission report condemns system as unsafe, reveals 'shocking tale of neglect'

According to ABC News, an interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has found the nation's aged care system to be a "shocking tale of neglect". After a 10-month inquiry, the report said the system failed to meet the needs of elderly people, often neglected them and was "unkind and uncaring". The Commission found service shortfalls, serious substandard and unsafe care and an "underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained" staffing. It identified three areas, which it said, could be acted upon immediately: more home-care packages for those on the waiting list, a reduction in the "over-reliance" on chemical restraints and stemming the intake of young people with disabilities into aged-care home. The use of chemical restraints is one of the areas most strongly condemned.

RC ‘committed to systemic reform’ of cruel, failing system

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care royal commissioners have rejected industry calls for a significant increase in government funding to aged care before the end of the inquiry due to the need for a major transformation, their interim report shows. However, Commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs have flagged chemical restraint as one of three areas requiring “urgent action” in their report titled Neglect tabled in parliament on Thursday. In the three-volume report, they describe the aged care system as a “shocking tale of neglect,” say “this cruel and harmful system must be changed” and raise questions about a market-oriented approach. It is clear that Australia’s aged care system needs a fundamental overhaul of its design, objectives, regulation and funding rather than patching up, Commissioners Tracey and Briggs said. “We have found that the aged care system fails to meet the needs of our older, often very vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care for older people. It is unkind and uncaring towards them. In too many instances, it simply neglects them.” They said it is “a myth that aged care is an effective consumer-driven market” and “the notion that most care is ‘consumer-directed’ is just not true.”

Stakeholders say interim report signals areas for change

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care royal commission’s interim report has put the government, industry and community on notice for significant reform to come, says the aged care minister. Aged care peaks and other stakeholders are saying the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report shows the country can do better to support older Australians. They are backing the need for urgent reform to the aged care system including in the areas of funding, education, workforce and governance. The commission’s three-volume interim report titled Neglect was tabled in parliament yesterday. It rejected industry’s calls for significant funding now but called for urgent action to address the residential sector’s over-reliance on chemical restraint care among three areas that require immediate action. Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said he was shocked by the findings of the report. “It’s put the government on notice, it’s put the industry on notice, but I think as importantly as anything, it’s put the entire community on notice,” Mr Colbeck told a press conference in Canberra yesterday.

RC finds governments unwilling to act for last 20 years

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, successive Australian governments have lacked the will to commit to change or adopt recommendations from the many aged care reviews and inquiries of the past two decades. That’s the finding of the latest background paper produced for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The royal commission report provides an overview of 18 major public reports and inquiries related to publicly-funded aged care in Australia since 1997 and government’s often tardy reply to them. “Responses often come years after the review and recount what has been done in an almost tangential way,” the paper says.

Labor calls for immediate aged care funding boost following scathing report

According to The Guardian, Labor has launched a new campaign targeting the government over aged care funding, as the health minister, Greg Hunt, commits to delivering a “significant package” for the sector before Christmas. Setting a deadline of 11 November when parliament returns, opposition leader Anthony Albanese said the “aged care, action now” campaign would gather signatures from across the country calling for immediate funding to address a crisis in the sector. “It’s not good enough for the government to be sitting on its hands while these cuts have been made, while even the money that was allocated hasn’t been spent,” Albanese said. “The truth is that this government has cut aged care funding, they slashed it while Scott Morrison was the treasurer of Australia. And the consequences are there for all to see.”

Victoria pushes for mandated staffing ratios for all providers

According to Aged Care Insite, Victoria is calling on the Commonwealth to institute minimum staffing ratios for all aged care providers ahead of the release of the royal commission interim report. Via the state government’s submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Minister for Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan also pushed for increased funding and better access to primary healthcare across services. Donnellan said the Commonwealth needs to do more. “Our vision for the future of Australian aged care is a well-trained and resourced sector with integrated healthcare that supports our older citizens in making their own choices, no matter where they live,” he said.

Abusive Aged Care Workers May be Criminally Prosecuted

According to Lexology, elder abuse is a broad term, encompassing both criminal and non-criminal conduct. As yet, it is not a distinct offence – though there have been calls for a separate elder abuse law. Certain forms are, however, encapsulated and therefore punishable by existing criminal laws. For example, crimes such as common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, sexual assault, larceny, fraud and conduct engendering life are all punishable by terms of imprisonment.

Working conditions in aged care homes are awful, largely because the work is done by women

According to The Conversation, the aged care royal commission is the just the latest in an avalanche of reviews and inquires over three decades that have found the same things: abuse and neglect and, lying behind them, appalling work conditions. The real question is why, for decades, we haven’t paid attention to a workforce of 366,000, projected to grow to 980,000 in 2050. Part of the answer must lie in the gendered nature of care work. Women comprise an extraordinary 90% of the aged care workforce. The continuing undervaluation of aged care work owes much to much female work being unpaid and therefore less visible, and to much of it involving care. It means the progressive degradation of care work happened in the shadows, while the spotlight was directed at other, better-paid work.

Views on aged care from inside Canberra

In this article, Aged Care Insite talks with Federal Member for Cooper Ged Kearney, who spent 20 years as a nurse before becoming the Shadow Minister for Skills and Aged Care. Kearney says, “I sadly haven’t been surprised by the revelations of the royal commission. I know this is going to sound a bit weird, but it’s been a bit of a relief for me that, finally, it’s getting the attention that it deserves.”

Carers suffer poor health for a year after loved one dies: new research

According to Aged Care Insite, acting as the primary carer for a family member can lead to poor health and lower quality of life for up to a year after the loved one has passed away. New research by Curtin University found that, compared to non-carers, it often took carers 9–10 months to return to ‘normal’ health levels.

No time to wait: LASA releases pathway to reform

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the CEO of industry peak LASA has described the current home care situation as “unacceptable in 21st century Australia” as he released a 16-point pathway to reform in the aged care sector. LASA’s Working While We Wait discussion paper, designed as an interim measure to pressure the federal government into action while the nation awaits the recommendations of the royal commission, was launched at LASA’s annual conference in Adelaide on Monday. It contains 16 priorities spanning home care, residential care and health interface, including promoting the Pension Loan Scheme to people on the national home care queue and creating a Home Care Loans scheme.

Women using home nursing becoming older, more complex

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, longer life expectancy and better disease management is placing increasing demands on home nursing services, research suggests. Women using home nursing services are becoming older and more medically complex, according to a Wiley research paper. Trajectories of Home Nursing Use for Older Women in Melbourne 2006-2015 also found women using home nursing services in 2015 were more likely to be from countries other than Australia and were more likely to speak a preferred language other than English, compared to 2006. This is consistent with current trends in the Australian population over recent years as baby boomers and postwar migrants move into retirement age.

International standards linked to improving ageing

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, global standards can benefit ageing societies and the wellbeing of older citizens, an upcoming conference on ageing will hear. Global Community Resourcing director of projects and research Anne Livingstone said international standards could ensure best practice for aged care services and systems in ageing societies around the world.

Legislation

Nothing in the news this week.

Resources and Upcoming Conferences

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.

The Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) project on improving home care payment arrangements - consultation period now open

According to The Department of Health, the consultation period for ACFA’s project looking at the financial impact of improving home care payments arrangements is now open. In forming its advice to Government, ACFA is seeking written submissions responding to its consultation paper by 12 November 2019. You can have your say via a link on the Department of Health’s site.

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.

Uploading Data Collection Template: Quick Reference Guide for CHSP providers – deadline extended to 8 November 2019

The My Aged Care Provider Portal will open from 22 July until 11.59pm AEST 8 November 2019 for Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers to upload the grandfathered client data collection template. The Department of Health has released a Quick Reference Guide that explains how to upload the data collection template into the My Aged Care Provider Portal and select the services each client receives.

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.

International Dementia Conference: Care in the Age of Outrage – call for papers, submissions close 8 November 2019

The Dementia Centre is inviting submissions for paper and poster presentations for the 2020 International Dementia Conference - Care in the Age of Outrage. Taking place in a period of significant reflection here in Australia through a Royal Commission on Aged Care and similar international initiatives seeking to reform and inform dementia care, this conference will explore how we shape the future of how we live, love and care together.

Australian Association of Gerontology: 52nd AAG Conference – 5-8 November 2019, Sydney

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, this year’s Conference builds on the previous AAG conferences where the importance of both enabling and appreciating the contributions that older people make to their families, communities and society was acknowledged. The engagement and participation of older people throughout the conference is critical and reflects the conference theme which is “Coming of Age Together – New ways of acting and knowing”.

National Conference on the Future of Aged Care: Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission – 19-21 November 2019, Melbourne

According to Criterion Conferences, this national conference will be the first opportunity to critically unpack and explore the Royal Commission’s Interim Report, with strategic insights from key industry leaders and experts.

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.

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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