Residential Aged Care Assessments: What to Expect in 2021

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Weekly Wrap: 08 November 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 08 November 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 08 November 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

COVID cases in Australian aged care homes drop to zero

According to The Donaldson Sisters, Australians have a good reason to celebrate this week with the number of active cases linked to the country’s aged care homes falling to zero for the first time since June. On Wednesday, the last remaining active case of COVID-19 linked to an outbreak in an aged care home in Victoria was cleared. The milestone marks what has been a long and difficult period for residents, families, staff and providers across the state and the country since the pandemic began in March – eight months ago.


Victorian Restrictions Easing from 11.59 on Sunday 8 November 2020

According to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Third Step restrictions apply across Victoria from 11.59 on Sunday 8 November 2020 . The same restrictions apply in regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne. Restrictions on travel and gatherings have been eased. Face masks must still be worn.


Hundreds of aged care PPE requests denied

According to Aged Care Insite, more than half of requests for masks, gloves and gowns from aged care providers were rejected as coronavirus swept the country and killed hundreds of nursing home residents. The Department of Health received 2865 requests for personal protective equipment from the national medical stockpile between March and mid-August. But only 1324 of the requests from residential and in-home aged care providers were approved.


New mental health campaign launched

(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 Australian Government will roll out a COVID-19 mental health campaign, ‘How’s your head today?’ to urge people to prioritise their mental health, raise awareness about how to identify when something is wrong, and encourage people to seek help.

The campaign encourages all Australians to check in with how they are feeling. The campaign recognises the emotions many people are feeling and illustrates the actions they can take to help themselves feel better.

The campaign will be provided in 15 languages across radio and print including Vietnamese, Arabic, Mandarin, Cantonese, Greek, Italian, Korean, Spanish, Punjabi, Hindi, Khmer, Thai, Turkish, Persian and Macedonian.

For information, advice and support services visit the Head to Health website. Read the Minister for Health’s media statement.


Residential aged care visitation assistants available in Victoria

(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 Australian Government is funding a program of Residential Aged Care Visitor Assistants (RACVAs). This will help Victorian residential aged care facilities to welcome visitors.

The primary role of the RACVA is to assist residents with visitors and remote contact, including:

  • helping facilities to schedule in-person visits
  • assisting visitors with PPE requirements and hand hygiene
  • helping residents to use technology to contact family and friends remotely
  • assisting with low-level care such as meal distribution, non-intimate care, linen distribution, and front office and administration functions.

Training for RACVAs has included use of PPE, infection control practices, and working with people with dementia. RACVAs are placed and funded for a maximum of 8 weeks. RACVAs will support residents and relieve the pressure the aged care workforce is experiencing in the pandemic.

Providers in Victoria can contact directly to discuss opportunities for onboarding an RACVA. See more information on the DHHS guidance for visitors in Victoria.


Testing of asymptomatic residential aged care workers in Victoria

(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, Australians living in aged care are among those most vulnerable to becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19. Stopping this virus from spreading into Victoria’s aged care facilities is our top priority. Testing gives health authorities the chance to find people with COVID-19 who are working in aged care, before they appear unwell. This will help health authorities identify where community transmission is occurring, before there are COVID-19 outbreaks.

In October, the Australian Government expanded capacity for testing of asymptomatic aged care workers in Victoria. Residential aged care services in Victoria have been or will be contacted to be offered in-reach testing for aged care workers. Services in hotspot locations will be prioritised. We have updated fact sheets to provide further information for aged care workers and aged care facilities in Victoria. Further information for aged care staff in Victoria is available on the Department’s website.


Queensland update on RACF visitations

(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, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has issued Aged Care Direction no. 13 which came into effect on 3 November 2020.

Key changes from November 3 include:

  • you are not allowed to enter a facility if you are waiting on a COVID-19 test result
  • clarification on the list of symptoms that exclude a person from entering a facility
  • clarification regarding exemptions to visit someone who is near their end of life if you have been overseas or in a COVID-19 hotspot, with the permission of the operator of the facility.

Visitors should:

  • visit a resident in the resident’s room, outdoors or a specified area in the aged care facility
  • avoid communal spaces
  • make sure the resident has no more than two visitors at a time, including doctors
  • wash your hands before entering and leaving the facility
  • stay 1.5 metres away from residents where possible
  • stay away when unwell.

Visitors, staff or volunteers at the facility should not be anyone who:

  • is unwell
  • has returned from overseas in the last 14 days
  • has had contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • has travelled to a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days
  • has been tested for COVID-19 and is waiting for the result
  • has COVID-19 symptoms of fever (37.5 degrees or more), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue
  • has not had the 2020 flu vaccination (unless it is unavailable to you).


South Australian update on workforce restrictions

(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, from 5 November, the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 12) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 came into effect.

The Direction protects residents, staff and others from the risk of transmission of COVID-19, while supporting the rights and wellbeing of residents and their families.

Residents can leave an aged care facility and return for any reason.

Relatives and friends (including children) are permitted to visit their loved one in an aged care facility, and there are no limits on the number of visitors per day. Aged care facilities should put processes in place to ensure that residents can receive visitors safely.

Visitors coming from the Northern Territory, Western Australia, Tasmania, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales or New Zealand are permitted to visit aged care facilities upon arrival in South Australia.

Visitors coming from Victoria (except cross border community members) are only permitted to visit an aged care facility within 14 days of entering South Australia if they are providing end of life support to a resident. These visitors are required to wear PPE and self-quarantine at all other times.

Personal care workers in residential aged care facilities may work across multiple sites provided they notify the facility operator. The facility operator must also keep a register of any workers who provide care at more than one facility.

Residents of facilities will need to be isolated following a COVID-19 test until the result of their test is known. Nursing, medical, allied health and personal care workers are required to wear personal protective equipment when working within 1.5 metres of any resident awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

Operators of residential aged care facilities are required to follow a COVID-19 Infection Control Plan approved by the Department for Health and Wellbeing (SA) relating to all communal areas.

All people providing nursing care or personal care to residents must complete COVID-19 Infection Control Training determined by the Department for Health and Wellbeing (SA). Records of this training must be provided to an authorised officer on request.

View details on the residential aged care direction as well as further directives on Aged care facility visitation and general information on aged care - COVID-19 in SA.


Updated NSW Health advice on masks in RACFs

(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, NSW Health has updated its guidance to residential aged care facilities. This includes advice that masks are no longer necessary in all aged care facilities. NSW Health also recommends providers plan for all staff to wear surgical masks should it be recommended in the future where there is an increased risk of local transmission.

There is also a reminder about the need for caution on who is able to visit aged care facilities.


Mixed response to Epping Gardens candle gesture

According to Aged Care Insite, Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility, where 38 people died from COVID-19, sent out scented candles to those mourning the death of loved ones. And the gesture has been met with fury by some, with families calling it “a slap in the face” and returning the candle, along with angry letters, back to the home in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.


Other News

Serious Incident Response Scheme in residential aged care

(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 new Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) will start in early 2021 as announced by Minister Colbeck on 1 October 2020. This is another important step in the Australian Government’s quality reform agenda to strengthen consumer protections and encourage improved service delivery in aged care.

The department has published a SIRS Model for Implementation paper on its website. This paper sets out the structure and operation of the SIRS for residential aged care and flexible care delivered in a residential aged care setting. The department encourages all residential and flexible aged care providers to visit the department’s website for more information.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will shortly provide the sector with information and education to ensure aged care providers are ready for commencement of the SIRS.


Providers spend more than $100k paying all staff retention bonus

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, aged care providers are reaching into their own pockets to pay all facility staff a retention bonus, with one budgeting $160,000, providers tell Australian Ageing Agenda. For the first two instalments of the bonus, Ryman Healthcare has spent $120,000 to extend it to non-eligible staff while Peninsula Villages and Donwood Community Aged Care Services have paid out $108,000 and $60,000 respectively and committed to paying the third instalment to all.


Retirement village operators likely to pick up the ‘care’ shortfall as focus on aged care moves to the home

According to The Weekly Source, the StewartBrown Senior Partner has predicted retirement villages will be at the forefront of Australia’s aged care transformation – but there are risks for operators, a panel session for Retirement Living Council members has heard. The session – filmed on Thursday 15 October 2020 – saw Grant give an update on what the village sector can expect from the Royal Commission as well as changes in home care policy alongside Janene Eagleton, the General Manager Care Development at Ingenia Communities and Anita Courtney, Aged Care & Home Care Principal at Russell Kennedy Lawyers. Noting that StewartBrown’s latest home care data shows that average profitability and care hours are both declining, Grant said less than 50% of home care clients actually transition to home care – meaning more than half pass away at home. This indicates that the frailty of people receiving Home Care Packages (HCPs) is increasing – and with that comes the expectation that they will be able to have care delivered into their home, including retirement villages.


Study highlights data gap in residents’ health status

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, aged care funding data accurately reports some residents’ health conditions including dementia but underreports or misses others such as osteoporosis and heart illnesses, a new study shows.


RC recommendations a step forward for physio

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, recommendations made to the royal commission on allied health go a long way to supporting physiotherapy in aged care and improving the quality of life of residents, an allied health peak body has told Australian Ageing Agenda.


Pushback against plan to transfer aged care from government

According to Community Care Review, senior counsel assisting the aged care royal commission have made the case for the creation of an independent body that would take responsibility for aged care out of the hands of the government and its bureaucrats.

In their final submission, Peter Gray QC and Peter Rozen QC recommend the establishment of an Australian Aged Care Commission independent of government and responsible for administering and regulating the aged care system. Royal Commissioner Lynelle Briggs described the proposal as “quite extraordinary … and even courageous” and questioned whether such a move would be in the best interests of older Australians.


Grief and trauma webinars for the aged care community

(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, Phoenix Australia, one of the organisations delivering trauma support to the aged care sector is hosting a free webinar to explore how trauma may affect residents, families, staff and management, and how it can impact delivery of care.

A panel of trauma experts from Phoenix Australia will discuss:

  • How to identify and manage potential sources of trauma
  • How trauma-informed care practices can better support residents, their families, and staff

When: 4:00-5:00pm (AEDT), Wednesday 11 November 2020

Please feel free to forward this invitation to your colleagues. You can find more information and register here. The webinar will be made available online afterwards for anyone who cannot attend on the day.

For those who missed it, last week’s Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) webinar introducing the 3 organisations delivering grief and trauma services and support to the aged care sector is available for viewing using Google Chrome “Accessing grief and trauma support during COVID-19”.


Zoom tools for people living with dementia

(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, Dementia Australia has developed a suite of resources to help people living with dementia to stay connected. Developed by people living with dementia, the resources are designed to support the use of video conferencing to help people stay in touch.

Dementia Australia is keen for aged care staff to use these new resources to increase the opportunities for residents to enjoy social interaction during this unprecedented time of enforced isolation.

The following resources are available:

Media Release – Video conferencing guide

Using Zoom – Guidelines for meetings

Using Zoom – Participating in meetings

Zoom tips – How to join a meeting

Zoom tips – How to get the best out of the experience

Zoom tips – Holding a dementia-friendly meeting

Zoom tips – Tools and examples


Aged Care Funding Instrument Desk Reviews

(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, approved Providers of residential aged care facilities should note that the Department of Health is undertaking ACFI reviews at-desk in the department’s offices until further notice. This approach removes any risk of COVID-19 transmission occurring by departmental staff visiting residential aged care facilities.


Parliamentary inquiry to look into aged care financial transparency

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a parliamentary committee will investigate the finances of aged care providers in response to a recently introduced federal bill calling for financial transparency. The bill, which introduced on 19 October by Centre Alliance Member of Parliament Rebekha Sharkie, was referred to the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport later that week but just announced this week. If passed the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Financial Transparency) Bill 2020 would require residential aged care providers to disclose income, spending on food, medication, staff, training, accommodation and administration and what they pay parent bodies.


New mobile units can create instant palliative care rooms

According to Aged Care Insite, a research team from Monash University has designed portable units which can transform acute and sub-acute hospital rooms into temporary palliative care rooms. The Pal-care unit is the brainchild of the husband and wife team of Dr Thinn Thinn Khine and Dr Nyein Aung and looks to improve family togetherness during the palliative experience of a loved one. The unit features a fold-out bed for visitors and a digital connectivity module so end-of-life patients can connect with the outside world.


Webinar: Business Improvement Fund / Business Advisory Service

(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, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), together with the Department of Health and PwC, is hosting a webinar on Monday 9 November to discuss how approved aged care providers can gain support from the Business Improvement Fund and the Business Advisory Service.

The Business Improvement Fund is a grant program for eligible residential aged care providers, including those that have or are one or more of the following:

  • small to medium sized residential aged care providers (generally less than seven facilities) with operational places
  • limited access to financial support
  • facing significant financial pressure which may impact on care to residents or risk of service closure
  • regional, rural and remote locations
  • special needs – i.e. bushfire impacted, socio-economic impact on the local community

While funding is being prioritised to providers featuring the characteristics above, the fund is open to all aged care providers. Larger providers can also benefit from the Business Improvement Fund as funding is available to support the sale of providers experiencing sustainability challenges.

The free Business Advisory Service is delivered in partnership with PwC to residential and home care providers. The service aims to help these aged care providers review their operations and to provide advice on business management and financial strategies, governance, risk management and property and asset management.

The webinar will cover:

  • eligibility for both programs
  • activities that can be funded
  • case studies of services supported to date
  • seeking your feedback on the program, including barriers to access and suitability


Home care franchise model booming, says provider

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the home care franchise model is thriving in Australia, according to the chief operating officer of Australia’s largest and longest-running franchised provider. Just Better Care has seen five new territories open this year, including one in Perth last month, in response to increased demand for in-home care for older Australians and people with disability, COO Alison Chandler told Community Care Review.



No significant developments this week.


Resources and Upcoming Events

Assessing the Standards – new workshops 

According to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the Commission has scheduled a new round of our “Assessing the Standards” online workshops, running throughout October. Through active participation in this online workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Understand the principles that inform the Commission's approach to performance assessment
  • Understand and describe how they and other staff contribute to the achievement of quality outcomes for consumers
  • Use the self-assessment tool to gather and analyse information to evidence performance against the Quality Standards and/or identify opportunities for improvement
  • Contribute effectively to their organisation’s continuous improvement systems

Visit our website to find out more about the workshops and to register.


Webinar series: Changes to regulatory arrangements for residential aged care providers supporting NDIS participants from 1 December 2020

According to the Department of Health, Residential Aged Care (RAC) providers supporting National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants will need to be registered* with the NDIS Commission from 1 December 2020. This also applies to RAC providers who start supporting NDIS participants after 1 December 2020. *Note that registration will be automatic for RAC providers with NDIS participants as at 1 December 2020.

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is currently delivering a series of webinars to help RAC providers with the transition and to understand their responsibilities.


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.


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.


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
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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