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Weekly Wrap: 31 May 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 31 May 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 31 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

Unannounced visits to return in June

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care regulator will resume unannounced visits to residential aged care facilities two or three weeks from now, the quality and safety commissioner has said this week. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission paused unannounced visits to aged care facilities in mid-March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. At a Senate Select Committee hearing on COVID-19 on Tuesday Senator Jacquie Lambie asked what action the commission had taken to ensure the temporary policy did not impact on quality of care. Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner head Janet Anderson said compliance monitoring continued including telephone calls with every residential aged care service and online surveys.

 

New Fact Sheet - The Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has released a new Fact Sheet on the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 (the Code). The Code sets out the aged care industry’s expectations of conduct for aged care providers on how to support residents being able to have visitors while also keeping them safe and protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Aged care virus-linked complaints doubled

According to Aged Care Insite, Coronavirus-linked complaints to the aged care regulator more than doubled within a month. Aged care quality and safety commissioner Janet Anderson revealed 371 COVID-19 linked complaints were received in March and 760 in April. The number of complaints eased in May, she added. Nearly half of all complaints from January to May have related to visitor access, while others focused on the preparedness of aged care facilities for the virus.

 

Advice for Pregnant Aged Care Workers

(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, early evidence suggests pregnant women are not at greater risk of developing serious symptoms due to COVID-19 infection. However, not enough is known about the virus. Pregnant women should do what they can to avoid infection. Pregnant workers can stay up to date with RANZCOG advice regarding COVID-19. If they have any concerns they should talk to their General Practitioner or call the National Coronavirus helpline on 1800 020 080 which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

Testing of Residents and Workers

(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, blanket testing of all residents or staff of a residential aged care service who do not have any symptoms, or who have no history of close contact or international travel, is not recommended. However, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee has published advice that recommends testing where staff or residents exhibit symptoms. Given the high risk of aged care facilities, this extends to recommending testing even for those staff or residents who display non-standard or atypical symptoms.

 

Video calls don’t reduce loneliness, review shows

According to Community Care Review, video calls during social isolation may make no difference to the quality of life of older people, a review of scientific studies suggests. A Cochrane Rapid Review, Video calls for reducing social isolation and loneliness in older people, will come as small comfort to many after mobile technology was widely touted as a way of countering loneliness in older people forced in to isolation during COVID-19 restrictions.

 

Latest Residential Aged Care Communiqué

The latest Residential Aged Care Communiqué covers:

  • Lessons could be learned by reviewing COVID-19 outbreaks
  • International experiences in long term care
  • Factors that may contribute to RACS being a high-risk setting for COVID-19 outbreaks
  • More than standard techniques are required for prevention of infection

 

How did Hong Kong and South Korea record no coronavirus deaths in aged care?

According to Aged Care Insite, there have been no residential aged care deaths due to COVID-19 in either South Korea or Hong Kong, despite both regions having thousands of positive cases. Experts told British MPs and members of the Commons Health and Social Care Committee that due to decisive and strict infection control measures, not one of the four deaths in Hong Kong or the 266 in South Korea occurred in residential aged care. That is in stark contrast to the crisis in the UK, where an estimated 22,000 people have died in aged care homes. That figure is more than double the official figure the government has announced, which experts say does not paint an accurate picture of the crisis in British aged care homes. Professor Terry Lum, head of social care policy at the University of Hong Kong, told the MPs that authorities were vigilant about the potential for the virus to spread from hospitals to care homes and took the extreme step of quarantining residents with positive results for three months, as reported by The Guardian.

 

Senate inquires about aged care responses to COVID-19

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, it was not “a compellingly good example of outbreak management” at Newmarch House in western Sydney, the aged care commissioner has told a senate inquiry. The Senate select committee on COVID-19 held a public hearing on Tuesday looking at aged care responses to the pandemic. Much of the hearing focused on the country’s  second biggest cluster at Anglicare Sydney’s Newmarch House aged care facility in Caddens.

 

Other News

Services Australia letters requesting means assessments issued incorrectly

According to the Department of Health, letters asking care recipients to complete an Aged Care - Calculation of your cost of care digital form (SA486) with an issue date between 11 and 15 May 2020 may be incorrect. Letters were sent to care recipients, applicable nominees and their Home Care or Residential Care service provider. Care recipients who have already provided their income and asset information to Services Australia or to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs do not need to respond to this letter. This issue does not affect payments to providers or a care recipient’s contribution to the cost of their care. Further letters will be issued in the event that a recipient is required to provide information. If care recipients or their nominees still have concerns they can contact Services Australia on 1800 227 475 (call charges may apply).

 

Have your say - aged care worker regulation scheme

The Department of Health has engaged mpconsulting to assist in developing future options for a regulation scheme for aged care workers. This follows calls over the past several years for an aged care worker screening or registration scheme to be introduced by the Australian Government. A Consultation Paper has been developed to seek feedback on the:

  • potential features of an aged care worker regulation scheme
  • advantages and disadvantages of the various options and
  • implications of any new scheme.

Have your say by completing the online survey. The feedback received will be used to develop detailed options for the department to consider.

The survey is open now until Monday, 29 June 2020.

 

Palliative Care Australia calls for more funds, cites huge savings potential

According to Aged Care Insite, a new report has called for a yearly additional investment of $365 million for palliative care to “bring the system up to speed” and address significant “service gaps, meet future significant demand and reduce avoidable costs”. The report, which was commissioned by Palliative Care Australia (PCA) and prepared by KPMG, states that the investment would yield savings of $464 million a year to the healthcare system.

 

Time for a technological revolution in aged care

According to Aged Care Insite, new Australian research has found that the more social interactions aged care recipients have, the better their cognitive function. And researchers argue that the government should help keep aged care residents socially engaged using technology. Academics from Macquarie University, along with the Department of Public Health and Primary Care and Cambridge University in the UK, found that social networks have a critical role in delaying dementia and higher social networks with family and friends was linked to better cognition in people who receive home and community based aged care services. Interestingly, this was more prominent in male recipients.

 

Provider works with health service to embed palliative care approach

According to Community Care Review, aged care provider Bolton Clarke is partnering with a Melbourne health service to increase awareness of and access to palliative care. The 12-month Enhanced Palliative Care at Home project is being run in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs by Bolton Clarke and the Eastern Melbourne PHN. It aims to support people with life-limiting conditions to stay at home by proactively identifying needs and linking clients with community nurses, specialised palliative care teams and other health care providers.

 

Legislation

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Subsidies—COVID-19 Support) Instrument 2020 (Cth) – Commenced 27.05.20

This instrument prescribes a new ‘other supplement’ for the purposes of sections 44-27 and 52-1 of the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) and sections 44-27 and 52-1 of the Aged Care (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997 (the TP Act). The new ‘other supplement’ is the COVID-19 support supplement which is payable to approved providers of residential care and flexible care.

 

Resources and Upcoming Events

Forced Innovation: International and National perspectives on changing care models, responsive workforces and technological advancements - WEDNESDAY 3 JUNE 2020 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM AEST via ZOOM Webinar

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, this forum will hear from an international panel of experts on COVID-19 effects on the Aged and Community Care sector, gain insights into the ACIITC Capabilities in Aged & Community Care Readiness: an Evaluation of Innovation & Technology (CARE-IT) research project and provide an opportunity to attendees to input into shaping the future national agendas for Innovation and Technology.

 

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
  • 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.

 

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?
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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