Information for the Aged Care Sector Newsletter Issue 2019/19

In this issue: My Aged Care Christmas operating hours, ACAT approvals, Minimising restraint and more.

Date published:
Health sector

Operational hours over the holiday period

My Aged Care
The My Aged Care contact centre (1800 200 422) and provider and assessor helpline (1800 836 799) will be closed on the national public holidays over Christmas:

  • Wednesday 25 December 2019
  • Thursday 26 December 2019
  • Wednesday 1 January 2020.

Otherwise, normal contact centre hours will apply:

  • 8am to 8pm weekdays
  • 10am to 2pm Saturdays.

Department of Health
Christmas shutdown will run from 3pm Tuesday 24 December 2019 until 8:30am Thursday 2 January 2020.

Advance payments for December 2019 and January 2020

Services Australia will be issuing advance payments for residential care and home care services on the following dates:

  • December 2019 advance was paid on 3 December 2019
  • January 2020 advance will be paid on 20 December 2019.

Note: As funds move between financial institutions they can be delayed by 1 to 3 days before they are received.

Submit the November 2019 claim to Services Australia as early as possible from 1 December 2019. This will allow for processing time for the January 2020 advance payment.

If you have an urgent matter, please phone Services Australia on 1800 195 206.

Missing or incorrect information causes delays
If your claim has missing or incorrect details, this can delay processing. Reduce delays and confirm your details before submitting your claim for payment to Services Australia.

Government funded care must have a valid ACAT approval

The department has received a number of enquiries from providers about when an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) assessment is required. A subsidy cannot be paid to an approved provider for providing care to a person, unless the person is approved under the Aged Care Act 1997 (the Act) as a care recipient.

An ACAT assessment is required if a person is seeking access to aged care services that are funded under the Act, including:

  • Residential Care
  • Flexible Care in the form of Transition Care or Short-Term Restorative Care
  • Residential Respite Care
  • a Home Care Package.

For a provider to claim a subsidy through a Home Care Package, the care recipient has to also have been assigned a Home Care Package and entered into a Home Care Agreement with a provider before the take-up deadline.

More information can be found on the department’s website.

Entering residential care in an emergency without an ACAT approval

An approved provider can make an emergency case application for a person without an ACAT approval where there was an urgent need for residential care and it was not practical to apply for prior approval.

If a person enters residential care or residential respite without an ACAT approval the provider must:

  • complete the Application for Care Form including the Emergency Case section
  • send the form to the ACAT within 5 business days of the date the person entered care
  • apply in writing (via email) to the ACAT delegate to request an extension in exceptional circumstances where the form cannot be submitted within 5 days.

You can find further information regarding this process on the department’s website.

Minimising physical and chemical restraint in residential aged care

Strengthening of regulations

The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, has announced further strengthening of the regulation of chemical restraints in residential aged care.

The Government’s legislation now:

  • makes it clear restraint must only be used as a last resort
  • refers to state and territory legislation which regulates the responsibility for prescribers to gain informed consent for chemical restraint
  • requires a review of the first 12 months of the operation of the restraint regulations to ensure aged care facilities are minimising the use of inappropriate restraint.

Since 1 July 2019, residential aged care providers have had specific responsibilities in the Quality of Care Principles 2014 in relation to the use of physical and chemical restraint. These requirements put explicit obligations on the use of restraint.

Find more information on the department’s website.

Raising awareness for prescribers

The Australian Government Chief Medical Officer will write to all prescribers (including GPs) who:

  • have prescribed an antipsychotic or benzodiazepine in residential aged care, or
  • are working in a residential aged care setting,

to raise awareness of the resources available to prescribers to support the care of residents with dementia.

From 1 January 2020, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme listings for risperidone for the treatment of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia of the Alzheimer type will change. This involves the addition of a new ‘continuing’ listing that places additional requirements on prescribers.

Further guidance on minimising the use of restraints is available on the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s website.

National Aged Care Mandatory Quality Indicator (QI) Program – second quarter data collection

Residential aged care service providers should have collected data for the three QIs (pressure injuries, use of physical restraint and unplanned weight loss) for October and November, and now be collecting data for December 2019.

Check the Program Manual to make sure you meet the mandatory program’s obligations.

Do not include personal information, such as names or initials of care recipients, in QI data you submit to the department.

QIs measure aspects of service provision which contribute to the quality of aged care services given by the provider, and to consumers’ quality of life and experience of service.

See how your service performs compared to national averages against each QI by viewing your individualised service–level report via the ‘Reports and Documents’ tile on the My Aged Care Provider Portal.

Visit the department’s website for more information, or if you need help, call the My Aged Care provider and assessor helpline on 1800 836 799.

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