Infection Control Leads: Summary of Requirements and Deadlines for Aged Care Providers

Residential aged care facilities are now required to appoint a clinical staff member as an infection prevention and control (IPC) lead by 1 December 2020. Here’s what you need to do and the deadlines you have to meet.

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Weekly Wrap: 15 November 2020

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Weekly Wrap: 15 November 2020

Aged care news highlights from the week ending 15 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

Infection prevention and control leads in aged care facilities

(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 Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr Brendan Murphy has written to approved residential aged care providers and NATSIFAC providers providing further guidance in relation to the infection prevention and control (IPC) lead requirements.

All residential aged care facilities must appoint an IPC clinical lead by 1 December 2020. By 31 December 2020, all nominated IPC leads must have enrolled in and/or commenced a suitable IPC training course if they do not have suitable existing qualifications. Individuals enrolled in training courses must have an identified date for completion that is before 28 February 2021.

It is expected that the second COVID-19 supplement will be used to fund the IPC lead and their training. More information on the IPC lead requirements is available on the department’s website.

 

Further guidance on Infection Prevention and Control lead requirements

(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, as previously announced, all residential aged care facilities must appoint an infection prevention and control (IPC) lead. Further guidance on IPC leads, including specific training and reporting requirements are contained in the letter from the department’s Secretary, Dr Brendan Murphy.

For details please read the:

letter for Approved Providers (including multi-purpose services)

letter for National Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander Flexible Aged Care (NATSIFAC) providers

More information on the IPC lead requirement is available on the department’s website.

 

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. The aged care minister told AAA the government wasn’t budging on the eligibility criteria and suggested providers could draw on other funding targeting additional costs and workforce supply pressure to pay the bonus.

 

Extension of the COVID-19 support line

(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 Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck has announced a $2.5 million investment to extend and expand the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line until 30 June 2021 to ensure senior Australians get the services and assistance they need during COVID-19.

Between 22 April and 23 October 2020, the support line received more than 5,000 inbound calls and provided more than 29,000 outbound calls. The top five reasons for calls included:

  • wellbeing checks
  • information about COVID-19
  • advice to vulnerable people
  • travel restrictions
  • access to new, or queries about existing, home care services.

The support service is a joint initiative of COTA Australia, Dementia Australia, National Seniors Australia and the Older Persons Advocacy Network. The expansion of the service will also include support from the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) Alliance.

Senior Australians who would like information and support are encouraged to contact the Older Persons COVID-19 Support Line on 1800 171 866, Monday to Friday between 8:30am to 6pm AEDT (excluding public holidays).

 

Updated Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Directive

(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, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer has issued the Care Facilities Direction no.16 which applies to residential care facilities, including aged care facilities and disability residential facilities.

From 11:59pm on Sunday 8 November 2020, restrictions on visitors to care facilities have been eased, including:

  • one household is able to make a visit of up-to two hours per day for each resident at care facilities
  • family members of infants or children under 18 years can continue to visit together for unlimited periods
  • hairdressers and barbers can visit care facilities to provide hairdressing services to residents
  • care facilities must comply with the density quotients that limit the number of people that can be in a shared space at the same time.

The Victorian Government has updated its COVID-19 Residential Aged Care Facilities Plan for Victoria. This document provides guidelines to assist RACFs to support their healthcare workers, residents, families and visitors to prepare for, prevent and manage cases and outbreaks of coronavirus (COVID-19). Updates to the document are highlighted in yellow.

 

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission ‘Lessons Learned’ project

(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 Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has recently launched a lessons learned project. The goal of this project is to collect and share the lessons learned by providers who experienced COVID-19 outbreaks in one or more of their residential aged care services.

The Commission is in the process of conducting interviews with providers and plans to complete interviews by the end of November 2020.

During these interviews, the Commission is seeking to understand:

  • What was learned prior to, during and following COVID-19 outbreaks
  • What is being done differently now
  • Observations about the involvement of other parties, including the Commission, in responding to the residential aged care outbreaks in Victoria.

Once this information has been collected, the Commission will share the lessons learned by providers across the aged care sector in a de-identified way. These insights are expected to be highly valuable and relevant for all providers in their on-going consideration of how to keep residents safe whilst also protecting the physical, social and emotional wellbeing in a “COVID normal” environment.

 

Reminder – webinar on grief and trauma support

(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, a reminder that 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.

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

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.

You can find more information and register for free (please use Google Chrome). The webinar will be made available online afterwards for anyone who cannot attend on the day.

 

Has the Quality and Safety Commission contributed to COVID outbreaks in aged care?

According to Inside Ageing, the powers granted to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission that allow assessors to enter any Commonwealth-funded aged care facility in Australia to perform audits, have forced aged care operators to breach state legislation that was implemented to reduce the spread of COVID.

 

Overcrowded care homes have deadlier COVID-19 outbreaks: Canadian study

According to Aged Care Insite, overcrowding in an aged care home makes it more likely the home will be hit with a COVID-19 outbreak, international research suggests. The University of Toronto and Mt Sinai Hospital analysed data from 618 nursing homes in Ontario, Canada. The research suggested more crowded homes were more likely to experience larger and deadlier COVID-19 outbreaks.

 

Assistants available to support visits to Vic facilities

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a new initiative funded by the Federal Government aims to help Victorian residential aged care providers welcome back visitors to facilities as the number of outbreaks nears zero. Providers can apply for a funded Residential Aged Care Visitation Assistant for two-to-eight weeks to help residents communicate with their families through safe in-facility visits or technology. The initiative, which was announced by the Department of Health on 4 November, also aims to provide relief for existing staff during the pandemic.

 

Other News

New quality indicators

(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, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians and Minister for Youth and Sport, has approved new and updated quality indicators. Following an extensive development process and national trial, these quality indicators will be included in the National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator Program (QI Program) from 1 July 2021:

Pressure injuries

percentage of care recipients with pressure injuries, reported against six pressure injury stages

Physical restraint

percentage of care recipients who were physically restrained

Unplanned weight loss

percentage of care recipients who experienced significant unplanned weight loss (5% or more)

percentage of care recipients who experienced consecutive unplanned weight loss

Falls and major injury

percentage of care recipients who experienced one or more falls

percentage of care recipients who experienced one or more falls resulting in major injury

Medication management

percentage of care recipients who prescribed nine or more medications

percentage of care recipients who received antipsychotic medications

The new and updated quality indicators:

  • use the most up-to-date evidence
  • are easier to collect
  • are reported more simply as the percentage of care recipients affected.

Further information about the QI Program is available on the department’s website.

 

Union launches case to lift aged care wages

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, the Health Services Union has launched a work value case with the Fair Work Commission to increase aged care wages by 25 per cent. The case will look at the value of work that aged care workers do as well as how roles have changed, how career paths need to adapt and why wages should reflect these conditions. If the case is successful, more than 200,000 personal care workers, activities officers and catering, cleaning and administration staff in aged care will get at least $5 per hour more, and qualified personal carers would see their wage increase from $23.09 to $28.86 an hour.

 

My Aged Care ‘Client Portal’ is now ‘Online Account’

(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 Client Portal has been renamed as the My Aged Care Online Account. This change aims to help people better understand the online tool for managing their own aged care services. We are progressively updating references to Client Portal to refer to Online Account, with the system change coming into effect next year.

The Online Account contains important information for clients and their representatives about assessments, services, and interactions with My Aged Care.

Guidance on accessing and using the Online Account is available on the My Aged Care website.

We ask that the broader aged care sector use and promote both the new name and the availability and benefits of the Online Account. Where relevant, aged care organisations should:

  • review and update their materials
  • inform staff of the change.
  • When referring to the My Aged Care Online Account:
  • capitalise ‘Online Account’ – do not use ‘online account’
  • use ‘My Aged Care Online Account’ in the first mention
  • in later mentions, use ‘Online Account’
  • use ‘the’, ‘my’, and ‘your’ as suitable prefixes to ‘Online Account’
  • do not shorten ‘Online Account’ to ‘Account’.

The names of the Service Provider Portal, Assessor Portal and Staff Portal are not changing.

If you have any questions, email agedcarecomms@health.gov.au

 

One week to go! Start using the Aged Care Provider Portal now

(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, Services Australia is closing access to Aged Care Online Claiming and Aged Care Online Services on 20 November 2020. To continue online claiming with the agency, services will need to use the Aged Care Provider Portal (ACPP).

Visit the Services Australia website for more information on how to get access. Please note: to successfully link your PRODA account to your Aged Care User ID (or ‘A’ Number) for the first time, the given name and surname used on both accounts must be a 100% match.

For help: call 1800 195 206 (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm AEDT)

email aged.care.liaison@servicesaustralia.gov.au

To learn more about accessing and using the ACPP, read our education resources on the Services Australia website.

 

Emergency planning for aged care services

(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 high risk season for major Australian weather events and bushfires is approaching. It is important that all aged care providers are well prepared and able to respond to emergency events which may impact your service and ability to deliver care.

The Aged Care Quality Standards require service providers to have effective risk management systems and practices to maintain quality care in these emergency circumstances.

Service providers need to prepare their sites, staff and clients for the threat of bushfire in their local area. You should:

  • Contact your local fire authority to discuss bushfire implications and possible requirements.
  • Ensure you have updated daily lists of all of your onsite residents.
  • Continually monitor your local emergency broadcasting services for information. This might include a State Government emergency or fire services website or a local radio station (e.g. ABC local radio).
  • Ensure you have an evacuation plan that includes:
    • realistic arrangements for transportation and alternative accommodation relevant to different scenarios, e.g. only your service is affected OR all services in the region are affected
    • provision for resident identification and care-plan documents.

The department’s website provides comprehensive resources that can assist in your emergency planning.

 

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. Providers would also need to submit an annual financial transparency report to the quality regulator.

 

Workforce issues key barrier to pain management, study shows

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a lack of staff and education plus poor communication are hindering effective pain management in residential aged care, research from the National Ageing Research Institute shows.

 

Centrelink and aged care nominee arrangements are changing

(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 December 2020, Services Australia is making nominee arrangements easier. New Centrelink correspondence nominees are able to enquire, update and act for Centrelink payments, services, and aged care costs.

Customers will transition automatically on 5 December 2020 if they have:

  • a Centrelink correspondence nominee but not an aged care nominee
  • the same Centrelink nominee and aged care nominee.

Customers with a different Centrelink correspondence nominee and aged care nominee will transition in March 2021.

Customers will not transition if they:

  • have an aged care nominee but not a Centrelink correspondence nominee
  • are Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) income support recipients.

My Aged Care representatives are not affected.

Customers affected by these changes will receive a letter. If they don’t receive a letter, they can still change to the new arrangement. Customers can change their arrangement any time by completing the Authorising a person or organisation to enquire or act on your behalf form.

DVA income support recipients can complete the Aged Care Request for a nominee for DVA customers. My Aged Care customers can find more information on the My Aged Care website or contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.

 

Provider reskills older workers for jobs in aged care

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, a South Australian home care provider is reskilling older workers for a later-life career in aged care. The first 13 trainees were engaged by My Care Solution this week after graduating from its six-week pre-traineeship program, which was announced in March. They’ll now undertake 10 months of study and on-the-job learning to complete their Certificate III in individual support, before signing on with the provider.

 

Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) 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 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.

 

Philips’ Future Health Index reveals the vital role of technology to engage young healthcare workers

According to Inside Ageing, findings of the Future Health Index indicate 92% of Australian younger healthcare professionals believe that the right technologies have the potential to reduce their workload; 73% say they expect the adoption of digital health technologies to decrease their stress levels; 22% considered leaving the healthcare profession as a result of work-related stress. An overwhelming 87% said they are satisfied with their work as a healthcare professional.

 

NSW budget to fund 5,000 more end of life packages

According to Community Care Review, an additional 5,000 End of Life Home Support packages will become available from next July as part of a $56 million palliative care package to be delivered in the NSW budget. The state budget will be handed down on November 17. The home packages offer case management, personal care and domestic supports, as well as assistance with meals and transport. Chief Executive of Palliative Care NSW Linda Hansen said the funding reflected a multi-disciplinary approach to palliative care.

 

Study shows need to work with residents to understand food preferences

According to Australian Ageing Agenda, just two-thirds of surveyed aged care residents say they always have a choice of food, and only a quarter think their meals are always tasty, a new study shows. The Flinders University research surveyed 400 residents from 20 aged care homes in South Australia about their perceptions of the facility’s food services in the context of the Aged Care Quality Standards. Under Standard 4, aged care providers must provide safe and effective services and supports for daily living that optimise independence, health and wellbeing. That includes offering a variety of suitable quality and quantity.

 

Legislation

Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Bill 2020 [CTH] – passed house, introduced to Senate 9.11.20

The purpose of the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Improved Home Care Payment Administration No. 1) Bill 2020 (the Bill) is to change the payment of home care subsidy to approved providers from being paid in advance to being paid in arrears.

Paying home care subsidy in arrears will introduce a more contemporary business practice into home care subsidy payment arrangements and bring these arrangements into alignment with other Government programs.

The Bill will not affect the eligibility of consumers to home care subsidy or the amount of home care subsidy payable for eligible home care consumers.

 

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
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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