Date published: 
30 May 2020
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Today’s edition provides clarification on face to face assessments, noting that from the 25 May 2020, telephone and telehealth assessments no longer need to be the default for community-based aged care assessments.

This newsletter also offers information on wellbeing checks for all home care and Commonwealth Home Support Providers (CHSP) recipients.

Advice around essential CHSP services and client charges, personal monitoring technology and access to CHSP meals for Continuity of Service (CoS) Programme clients is also included within this newsletter.

As always, many thanks to you and your teams for your continued support to protect older Australians.

Update: Conducting face-to-face aged care assessments

An update on the delivery of aged care assessments was included in the daily newsletter released on 26 May 2020. In that update we advised that aged care assessments were no longer required to default to telephone and telehealth assessments from 22 May 2020. This date was incorrect – the new arrangements commenced from 25 May 2020.

From 25 May, Regional Assessment Services (RASs) and Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) should offer face to face aged care assessments, where it is possible and safe to do so. However, it is important to note that while COVID-19 circumstances continue, face to face assessments are not mandatory where this would be unsuitable or inappropriate for a client, service provider or assessment organisation. RAS and ACATs will continue to consider their local circumstances and client choice when determining whether aged care assessments are conducted face to face or by telephone or telehealth.

Update: CHSP personal monitoring technology for senior Australians

On Friday 1 May 2020, the Department advised Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) providers that they may use unspent funds in 2019-20 to purchase personal monitoring technology for their vulnerable clients, up to the value of $1,000 per client. Following a number of questions from providers, the Department wishes to clarify:

  • CHSP providers should work with clients to determine whether they need and want to use personal monitoring technology. CHSP providers are accountable for determining a client’s needs and are not to relinquish this responsibility to a personal monitoring system vendor.
  • New clients may approach CHSP providers seeking personal monitoring technology due to COVID-19. In this situation, providers may help purchase personal monitoring technology. It does not need a RAS or ACAT aged care assessment.
  • If a provider does not have 2019-20 unspent funds available to purchase personal monitoring technology, and their client has an identified need for personal monitoring technology, the provider should direct the client to contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. The client can ask My Aged Care for a referral for a ‘COVID-19 personal monitoring system’. My Aged Care can issue a blanket referral to all CHSP providers in the client’s ACPR. This will allow a CHSP provider with available 2019-20 unspent funds to accept the referral. This ensures clients whose provider does not have available 2019-20 unspent funds are not disadvantaged.
  • Providers should not provide a ‘COVID-19 personal alarm monitoring system’ to clients who already have a personal monitoring system.
  • Personal monitoring technology systems may include those that monitor clients for changes in behavioural patterns and send alerts, that is, they are not only for alerts due to emergencies such as a fall.

Further information is available on the department’s website.

Wellbeing checks now offered to all Home Care and CHSP recipients

In April, Minister Colbeck announced the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) will provide wellbeing checks over the phone to older Australians who have elected to defer their home support services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wellbeing check service is expanding to now support all home care and CHSP recipients who may need some extra social and emotional support, not just those who have paused their services.

This service is reliant on the referral of individuals. We understand that many home care and CHSP providers will follow-up on recipient’s welfare. This independent OPAN service should be complementary and additional to any contact made to older Australians by their home care or CHSP provider, to ensure that no older Australian falls through the cracks.

Referrals with consent can be made by service providers, loved ones, carers, and community members who are worried about an older Australian.

Home care, CHSP providers and others who wish to refer an older Australian to the service, with their consent and knowledge, can do so online by visiting opan.com.au/covidcallback and use the password: OPANcovid-19 or call OPAN on 1800 237 981 or email covid [at] opan.com.au.

Read more information about this service.

Advice around essential CHSP services and client charges

The department understands there is some confusion around the provision of essential home support services. To clarify, with the exception of Social Support Group, no CHSP service types should be cancelled or reduced by providers on the grounds of being non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. While there may be a reduction in demand for some services by clients during this time, all CHSP providers are expected to continue offering and delivering services safely and in accordance with state and territory social distancing and infection control requirements.

CHSP service providers may now re-open their Social Support Group and other in-person group activities where they can be delivered safely in a manner consistent with state and territory restrictions. Resources and specific information relevant to your state or territory can be found at www.australia.gov.au.

The department expects that all CHSP providers communicate and discuss any changes to care arrangements with their clients at the earliest opportunity. CHSP clients should not be charged for services they have not received. This includes services that have had to be cancelled or suspended due to COVID-19.

For more information, please contact your Community Grants Hub Funding Arrangement Manager (FAM).

Access to CHSP meals for CoS clients

CoS clients who need prepared meals due to the impact of COVID-19, can now access CHSP meals for the period of 1 May 2020 to 30 September 2020.

CoS clients who need CHSP meal services can contact a meals provider themselves or call My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. Following the screening process, My Aged Care will issue an urgent electronic referral to a CHSP meals provider. From this point on the referral process for the provider is the same as for other CHSP meals clients.

If the CoS client contacts the CHSP meals provider, the provider follows the same process currently in place for provision of urgent services to CHSP clients.

CoS clients can access CHSP meals for any period, from the date of referral, up to 30 September 2020. CoS clients are not entering the aged care system and are only receiving CHSP meals for a time limited period. They do not need a RAS assessment.

For the purposes of meals provision the CHSP Client Contribution Framework will apply to CoS clients.

Meals providers are to contact the CoS client two weeks before 30 September 2020 to remind the client they will not receive meal services after this date.

If the CoS client needs to continue to receive CHSP meals after 30 September 2020, they must be referred to the Department at CommonwealthCos [at] health.gov.au to discuss their options for ongoing support.

Coming soon

  • Workforce guide and FAQs
  • Further testing information