Chief Allied Health Officer Newsletter Issue 4 – December 2022

In this issue: message from Dr Anne-marie Boxall, updates on strengthening Medicare Taskforce engagement with Allied Health Sector, Online Aged Care Training Material and Health Roundtable news held in Hobart in November 2022.

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

Message from Dr Anne-marie Boxall

Thank you, again, for another year of hard work throughout 2022. As I look back across the challenges we have faced, I continue to be impressed by the allied health sector’s commitment to helping Australians improve their health and wellbeing.

I know that many allied health professionals will continue to work over the Christmas and New Year period, and I would like to particularly recognise and thank those people for their service. I hope you all get to experience some down-time at some point over the holiday season.

We have had some significant achievements this year – a highlight for me was the Australia New Zealand Allied Health Summit, which I co-hosted with the Dr Martin Chadwick, Chief Allied Health Profession Officer Aotearoa New Zealand. This two-day event brought together health professionals, professional bodies, researchers, and policy makers to explore and understand the value and utility allied health provides to patients and the health system. I was very impressed by the high quality of research presented, and I draw from these examples when presenting evidence to Government on the role of allied health. View the recordings and summary of the event.  

Please feel free to contact my office at caho@health.gov.au if you would like to get in touch about topics for the newsletter in 2023, or other allied health matters.

Best wishes
Anne-marie

Health Roundtable – Allied Health Workshop held in Hobart 2–3 November 2022

Dr Anne-marie Boxall and Dr Martin Chadwick, Chief Allied Health Professions Officer Aotearoa New Zealand, attended the Health Roundtable Allied Health workshop in Hobart 2–3 November 2022. This was an enjoyable two days of professionally stimulating content and networking among peers.

Health Roundtable members from across Australasia heard the strategic visions of both CAHOs, took part in group discussions around data collection/reporting, and heard how Andrew Slattery from Canberra Hospital used this information to inform service planning. The group saw presentations from the top-voted innovations of 2022 and planned their service improvement initiatives for 2022.

The innovations presented during the Health Roundtable event included:

  • Oystein Tronstad
    • Digital Pre-Operative Physiotherapy Education for Cardiac Surgical Patients
    • Metro North HHS Qld
  • Leanne Browne
    • Capacity at a Glance: A Variance Indicator Board tool
    • Te Whatu Ora Waitematā
  • Georgina Rosee and Katie Beckett
    • Through Thick and Thin: A novel eMR solution for thickened fluids and non-compliant medications
    • Central Coast LHD NSW
  • Samantha Gilmour
    • OT post discharge intervention reduces ED representation rates in older adults
    • Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group WA
  • Ellie Bills
    • My PreHab Program
    • Central Adelaide LHN SA

This was a wonderful opportunity to connect with Allied Health professionals from across Australasia and may open the door to further collaboration.

Dr Annie-Marie Boxall (Chief Allied Health Officer), Mr Oystein Tronstand (Queensland Health), and Dr Martin Chadwick (Chief Allied Health Professions Officer, New Zealand).

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Health Academy in the ACT

2022 has seen the first intake of students to the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Academy (NATSIHA) in the ACT.  NATSIHA is a transferrable and sustainable education and training program aimed at creating opportunities for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander high school students to consider a career in health and wellbeing. The NATSIHA is an innovative, community led training model that is about tailoring training to ensure engagement, retention and success for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students. The model is designed and managed by Indigenous Allied Health Australia (IAHA) to ensure training and education is delivered in a way that embeds the centrality of culture and a holistic approach to health as well as developing the technical capabilities associated with health and wellbeing professional practice. The Academy model allows students to consider a career in health, whilst creating a genuine pathway to enable students to gain relevant industry qualifications through a preferred school-based apprenticeship model and to gain future employment in the health and related sectors as clinicians, administrators and support workers (IAHA, 2021). The ACT implementation of the Academy has been a true collaboration across IAHA, University of Canberra, Canberra Institute of Technology and the ACT Government. Nine (9) students have completed the first year of the program, with 3 students (2 year 12 and 1 year 11) graduating in a fast-tracked program with a Certificate III in Allied Health Assistance. Placements have been completed at Canberra Health Services and University of Canberra Health Hub. Our next area of focus will be on employment pathways for graduates.

Updates on key pieces of work in the department 

Strengthening Medicare Taskforce update

The Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP, established the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce (Taskforce) to provide recommendations on the highest priority investments in primary care by the end of 2022, supported by the $750 million Strengthening Medicare Fund. The Taskforce considered ways to improve patient access to general practice including after hours, multidisciplinary team care, greater affordability for patients, better prevention and management of ongoing and chronic health conditions, and decreased pressure on hospitals. 

Opportunities to strengthen the role of allied health professionals was considered by the Taskforce, with Mr Antony Nicholas, Board Chair of Allied Health Professions Australia, representing all allied health professions. Taskforce deliberations were supported by presentations including one from the Australian Psychological Society that focussed on the current challenges and opportunities in delivering multidisciplinary care to achieve the best outcomes for people experiencing mental health concerns.

Taskforce members agreed that multidisciplinary team-based care models in primary health have a range of benefits for patients, providers, and the health system, which are best achieved through collaboration across professions to achieve person-centred care. The Taskforce acknowledged that by shifting funding towards blended models this could provide a greater level of flexibility to harness the strengths and skills of the diverse health workforce that can better serve to meet the needs of patients. The Taskforce acknowledged the importance of also supporting nurse-led, allied health and other primary care business models that work alongside general practice to deliver primary healthcare services to the community. Enablers to multidisciplinary team-based care were discussed, including access and sharing of MyHealthRecord and education and training to ensure workers have the skills required for multidisciplinary models of working.

The Taskforce will finalise its recommendations to Government by the end of the year. View details of the Taskforce including communiques.
 

MBS Review Taskforce engagement with the Allied Health Sector

Allied Health Implementation Liaison Group 

The Allied Health Implementation Liaison Group (AHILG) was established to support the implementation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Taskforce recommendations on Allied Health MBS items. The AHILG had their fourth and last meeting on 1 November 2022. The AHILG provided important advice on the 1 March 2023 implementation of changes to the Autism Spectrum Disorder, Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorders, and Eligible Disabilities items (currently Autism, Pervasive Development Disorder and Disability Services). Further details on these changes can be found in issue two of the CAHO newsletter and will be published under fact sheets at MBS Online.

First Nations Australians Implementation Liaison Group 

The First Nations Australians Implementation Liaison Group (ILG) was established in November 2022 to provide advice on the implementation of recommendation 4 – to pool access to allied health items that are available following the completion of a Health Assessment and the creation of a GP Management Plan/Team Care Arrangement. This ILG had their first meeting on 7 December 2022. More information on this recommendation can be found in the MBS Review Taskforce report on Primary Care. 

For updates on the MBS Review and implementation of recommendation you can subscribe to the MBS Reviews newsletter.

Changes to Group Therapy under the MBS items – Better Access Initiative

On 1 November 2022, changes were introduced to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to encourage the uptake of group therapy to be delivered under the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative.

These changes were announced in the 2021–22 Budget and consist of a revised structure for group therapy MBS items under Better Access. The changes include:

  • Introduction of 16 new MBS items for group therapy sessions lasting at least 90 minutes or 120 minutes
  • Amendments to the eight existing MBS items to reduce the minimum number of patients required to hold a group therapy session from 6 to 4, and
  • Allowing all group therapy MBS items to be claimed with only three patients, if four patients were scheduled to attend but one patient does not attend (for example, due to unforeseen circumstances).

Further information on the new and amended MBS items available to deliver group therapy is available on MBS Online in explanatory notes MN.6.7 and MN.7.4, as well as in the fact sheet Group Therapy MBS Changes under the Better Access Initiative.

Aged Care Sector

New Code of Conduct for Aged Care Sector

 The new Code of Conduct for Aged Care (the Code) commenced on 1 December 2022 and sets out standards of behaviour for approved providers, their aged care workers, and governing persons. Aged care workers include people directly employed by the approved providers, those employed by a contractor or subcontractor of the provider, and volunteers.

The Code will improve the safety, health, wellbeing, and quality of life for older Australians by ensuring they receive suitable standards of care.

Find support resources, including guidance materials for providers and workers, on the Code’s webpage on the Commission’s and Department’s website.

Online aged care training material

The Department of Health and Aged Care is working with the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre at the University of Tasmania to develop introductory and refresher learning modules for aged care workers, including allied health professionals working in aged care.

These are also available for anyone with an interest in caring for older people. The first six modules are now available for free online. All modules are expected to be available by March 2023. 

The modules take about 10 minutes to complete and cover a range of topics including:

  • dementia and palliative care
  • trauma-informed care
  • wound management
  • cross-cultural awareness
  • oral health 
  • mental health and wellbeing 
  • falls management. 

Each module is accompanied by interactive learning materials and links to further learning opportunities to enable ongoing group or individual on-demand learning.

Find out more

National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability

The National Roadmap for Improving the Health of People with Intellectual Disability (the Roadmap) was released in 2021 and aims to address serious health inequities faced by people with intellectual disability. Updates on 2 priority Roadmap projects are provided below.

Primary Care Enhancement Program (PCEP) for People with Intellectual Disability

The Primary Care Enhancement Program (PCEP) is a $6.6 million pilot project under the Roadmap. The PCEP is being delivered in four Primary Health Network (PHN) regions. The PCEP will:

  • provide greater support for GPs, through training and resources and other health professionals to provide more effective care to people with intellectual disability, and
  • give people with intellectual disability better access to appropriate, quality health services and resources that meet their needs.

Health Professionals who work in one of the four PHN regions below are eligible to access free case-based training until June 2024. The training is being delivered via online and face-to-face formats and co-facilitated by an expert clinician and a person with intellectual disability. The training includes a module that is tailored to Allied Health Professionals. For details about timing and access, please contact:

Intellectual Disability Health Curriculum Development Project

The Department of Health and Aged Care (the Department) is leading the Intellectual Disability Health Curriculum Development Project, a short-term action under the Roadmap. A key component of the project is the development of an Intellectual Disability Health Capability Framework (the Framework). The Department is seeking feedback on the initial set of draft core capabilities that have been developed for the Framework. 

The public consultation on the draft capabilities is open until 27 January 2023 and can be accessed through the Department’s Consultation Hub.

New infrastructure grant for allied health clinic in Emerald, Queensland

In the October 2022 Budget, the Government announced a $2.8 million dollar commitment to an additional allied health building at the Emerald GP Super Clinic, Queensland.

The proposed building will be co-located at the existing health campus and would include 10 practice rooms, a large measurement and assessment room and dedicated training facilities for allied health professionals.

The expected deliverable from the project is expanded scope of allied health services to the community and enhanced capacity for trainee medical professionals to conduct their placements in regional Queensland. 

Find out more on this capital works initiative and other Health Budget measures.

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