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Weekly Wrap: 8 December 2019

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Weekly Wrap: 8 December 2019

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 8 December 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.

Preparing for a Performance Assessment, Accountabilities Webinar Video and Information on Standard 4

The latest Aged Care Quality Bulletin from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission provides advice on preparing for an assessment, discusses Standard: Services and Supports for Daily Living, and notes that the video of the Accountabilities of Governing Bodies in Aged Care is now available.

Innovation, not ratios the key to fixing aged care: chief executive

According to Aged Care Insite, the debate over staff to patient ratios has raged for years now and the issue has been front and centre during the royal commission. The Queensland state government has committed to staffing level reports and mandated ratios. However, federally, the government has resisted, and the aged care sector is equally unsure of its merits. One industry veteran who doesn’t want to see ratios implemented is Odyssey Health Group founder Phil Usher. He sees innovation rather than staff quotas as the solution to improving Australia’s aged care system. “I don’t think a one-size-fits-all solution is the answer,” said Usher. “Cherry picking with mandatory staffing isn’t going to fix the problem because I think the whole aged care system needs an overhaul.” In this podcast, Aged Care Insite speaks with Usher to hear more about his ideas for a “consumer centric” aged care system.

ACFI downgrades, sanctions increase

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the aged care regulator downgraded more than two in five residential aged care funding claims audited last financial year, the government’s annual aged care report shows. The Department of Health conducted 6,600 reviews of Aged Care Funding Instrument claims in 2018–19, down from 10,318 reviews in 2016-17. Of the latest reviews, 2,854 resulted in funding reductions (43.2 per cent) and 21 resulted in a funding increase (0.3 per cent), according to the 2018-19 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act released on Wednesday.

Qld calls for increased penalties for non-compliance

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Queensland government inquiry investigating the sudden closure of a Gold Coast aged care facility in July is calling for subcontractors to be as accountable as approved providers. It has also recommended the Federal Government introduce business continuity checks in relation to subcontractor relationships and increase penalties for providers that don’t comply with the quality and safety standards. These are among 12 recommendations the Queensland government Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Committee made following its investigation into the closure of the Earle Haven Retirement Village at Nerang on 11 July and subsequent evacuation of 69 aged care residents.

GPs must prescribe more than medication

According to Community Care Review, Australia’s health professionals are falling behind when it comes to addressing their patients’ social problems such as loneliness and isolation, which can have hugely negative consequences on overall health and wellbeing. With 20 per cent of patients consulting their GP for what are essentially social problems, medication is not always the answer. Social prescribing is about linking patients to social services or social groups. A GP, for example, may suggest a running group so their patient can enjoy the benefits of exercise and interaction.

Home care providers outnumber residential providers for first time

According to Community Care Review, the number of home care providers in Australia has outstripped the number of residential care providers for the first time, government figures show. The 2018-19 report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act shows that at the end of June there were 928 home care package providers compared to 873 residential care providers, with the government spending $2.5 billion in home care subsidies and supplements. This compares to 702 home care and 902 residential providers in 2016-17, the year in which the Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms were introduced.

‘Little changes can make a big difference’: Stolen Generations fact sheets developed

According to Aged Care Insite, doctors, dentists and aged care workers will be better equipped to care for Stolen Generations survivors with a new set of resources. The fact sheets were developed by the Healing Foundation in collaboration with Stolen Generations survivors and peak medical bodies including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. They will be launched by Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt at Parliament House in Canberra today. Stolen Generations survivor and member of the Healing Foundation’s reference group Geoff Cooper said the fact sheets addressed key issues encountered when dealing with health professionals. “Little changes can make a big difference to how we feel when we walk in to a service,” he said. “Things like not making us talk about bad stuff that’s happened to us if we don’t want to, and explaining what you’re going to do before you do it so we aren’t caught off guard.”

Doctors develop new Standards for aged care

According to Lexology, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed the Standards for general practice residential aged care (Standards) to support and enhance the delivery of quality and safe general practitioner (GP) care in residential aged care facilities. The Standards were developed by the RACGP to align with the requirements of the Aged Care Quality Standards (from 1 July 2019). The five Standards cover:

  • resident care coordination
  • infrastructure, equipment, consultation spaces and treatment room
  • information management
  • medication management, and
  • qualifications of the residential aged care team.

The final Standards are expected to be released by October 2020.

Whistleblowers policy deadline approaches – new guidelines released by ASIC

According to Lexology, ASIC has now released its final guidance on whistleblower policies and relief for smaller not-for-profits. The guidance sets out the required information needed for a complaint whistleblower policy. The new Australian whistleblower laws commenced on 1 July 2019 and included a requirement that all “public” (including not-for-profits registered as public companies limited by guarantee) and “large proprietary” companies have a compliant whistleblower policy in place from 1 January 2020. Many organisations in the aged care and retirement living industries fall within this requirement, so this information is incredibly important. Action needs to be taken now to ensure a compliant policy is in place by the deadline.

New Medicare support for older Australians

According to Lexology, on the 1st of November 2019 the Australian Government introduced a new Medicare rebate for mobile x-ray services conducted at residential aged care facilities. The services include: x-rays of the shoulder, pelvis, ribs and sternum; chest x-rays for suspected pneumonia or heart failure; and abdominal x-rays for acute abdomen or bowel obstruction.

Peaks call for aged care resolutions before the year’s end

According to Aged Care Insite, Australia’s aged care providers are telling government what they want this holiday season – a better aged care system in 2020. And they warned of an impending “aged care emergency” if nothing changes. Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), The Aged Care Guild, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia and UnitingCare Australia have come together to urge government to use the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) to address immediate concerns in residential aged care and home care. “We commend the Government’s prompt commitment to key issues raised by the royal commission’s interim report, but the areas addressed are only the tip of the iceberg and the package announced is insufficient to support senior Australians today,” the peaks said in a statement.

Putting joy back on the menu

According to The Senior, Flinders University is among many global institutions conducting studies into "altered eating" - a term applied to the inability to enjoy food and eat well because of ageing, neurological conditions and malignancies. It has a significant impact on quality and enjoyment of life, outcomes of disease and treatments and social isolation, and has an economic impact on the healthcare system. The research ties in with continuing research being conducted at Flinders by Professor John Coveney on "social eating", eating in company. "We have been doing research on the role of social eating in preventing social isolation and loneliness," Professor Coveney said. "Our work has shown that even one shared meal each week can mitigate the likelihood of loneliness and associated health problems.”

VR helping staff make mealtimes better for people with dementia

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new virtual reality application is helping aged care workers understand and improve the dining experiences of aged care recipients with dementia. The new technology developed by advocacy organisation Dementia Australia and Deakin University allows participants to experience the sights and sounds of mealtimes through the eyes of a person with dementia. Dementia Australia’s Centre for Dementia Learning has incorporated the technology into a workshop titled A day in the life – mealtime experience, which it launched on Tuesday. Dementia Australia acting CEO Anthony Boffa said it was important to show aged care staff how to improve dining experiences for health and social reasons.

New ‘world-first’ Australian technology aims to fix falls in aged care

According to Aged Care Insite, one in two aged care residents will have at least one fall each year. This figure goes up for those with dementia, as high as 90 per cent, and takes a massive economic toll on aged care homes, hospitals and of course has massive ramifications for the residents. In 2015–16, there was an estimated 18,746 new hip fractures in Australia – around 199 hip fractures per 100,000 population aged 45 and over. The highest number of fractures occurs between the ages of 75 and 89. Within the first 30 days of a fracture, between six and 10 per cent of patients die, and of those who transition out of hospital most will never fully recover. An Australian company has created a patented artificial intelligence (AI) device that is able to detect if a loved one or patient suffers a fall in the home, hospital or aged care facility within two seconds. The HomeGuardian, from, doesn’t need WIFI, internet connections or individual programming. The units only need to be plugged into power and placed in a good vantage point to monitor a room.


Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 (Cth) Bill passed 5 December 2019

The purpose of the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (New Commissioner Functions) Bill 2019 is to transfer additional aged care regulatory functions of the Secretary of the Department of Health to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. This reform completes the two-year agenda to strengthen and enhance aged care regulation to protect and assure the quality of care provided to consumers of Australian Government funded aged care. It delivers on the intention as set out in the objects of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018.

Health Transparency Act 2019 (Qld)Act assented 5 December 2019

The Act:

  • establishes a legislative framework for collecting and publishing information about public and private hospitals and residential aged cared facilities (RACFs)
  • amends the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 to introduce a minimum nurse and support worker skill mix ratio and minimum average daily resident care hours in public RACFs; and
  • amends the Health Ombudsman Act 2013 to implement recommendations of the Health, Communities, Disability Services and Domestic and Family Violence Committee’s Inquiry into the performance of the Health Ombudsman’s functions pursuant to section 179 of the Health Ombudsman Act 2013.

The Act has not yet commenced. It will commence on a date set by proclamation.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2019 (WA)Bill passed 5 December 2019

The purpose of this Bill is:

  • to provide for and regulate access to voluntary assisted dying;
  • to establish the Voluntary Assisted Dying Board; and
  • to make consequential amendments to other Acts.

Resources and Upcoming Events

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?

2018-19 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997

According to the Department of Health, the 2018-19 Report on the Operation of the Aged Care Act 1997 is now available from the GEN Aged Care Data website. The report details the operation of Australia’s aged care system during the 2018–19 financial year and provides a snapshot of the system as a whole. It is delivered to Parliament each year by the Minister in accordance with section 63-2 of the Aged Care Act 1997.

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.

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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