Your Aged Care Update – 19 December 2023 – Issue #49

Your aged care update #49: updated Star Ratings, strengthened Quality Standards, Emergency leave extended to 31 December 2024 and more.

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

Have your say on the new Aged Care Act

Australia’s aged care laws are changing. The new Aged Care Act will put the rights and needs of older people at the centre of aged care. 

Public consultation is now open on the final draft of the new Act. We want to hear from:

  • older people, their families and carers
  • aged care providers and workers
  • advocates and representatives
  • others who are interested in aged care.

To get involved in the consultation, read the:

You can then give us your feedback by:

  • attending a workshop (details available soon)
  • completing the online survey
  • sending us an email.

Read more about the new Aged Care Act consultation. You can also watch a webinar that covers the new Act and Support at Home program.

Public consultation closes on 16 February 2024.

The strengthened Quality Standards – final draft now published

The final draft of the Strengthened Aged Care Quality Standards is available on our website. 
 
This version of the Standards is included in the exposure draft of the Bill for the new Aged Care Act, which is open for consultation now. 

The strengthened Standards are: 

  • Standard 1: The Person  
  • Standard 2: The Organisation  
  • Standard 3: The Care and Services  
  • Standard 4: The Environment  
  • Standard 5: Clinical Care 
  • Standard 6: Food and Nutrition  
  • Standard 7: The Residential Community. 

Each Standard includes: 

  • an expectation statement for older people 
  • the intent of each standard 
  • outcomes that providers would be assessed against 
  • actions - which are how providers might demonstrate achievement of the outcome. 

The final Quality Standards are intended to take effect with the new Aged Care Act.  

Interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner announced

Ms Andrea Kelly has been announced as the Interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner. She will commence this role in early 2024 for a period of 12 months.

Ms Kelly is a proud Warumungu and Larrakia woman who is passionate about aged care and has a strong connection to community.

In this role she will advocate for culturally safe aged care for First Nations peoples and their families to ensure a better aged care system for all.

Read more about the Interim First Nations Aged Care Commissioner.  

Quarterly Financial Report application now available in GPMS

The Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) application is now available on the Government Provider Management System (GPMS).

Providers should start using the new application to submit their QFR from January 2024. This applies for 2023-24 Quarter 2 reporting (1 October to 31 December 2023). 

Staff who will need to use the QFR application in GPMS are called Financial Reporting users in the system.

Each organisation’s GPMS Administrator is encouraged to set up access for relevant staff in their organisation and check they can access the ‘Financial Reporting’ tile. 

More information is available on the QFR and GPMS resource webpages.

If you need help logging into GPMS call the My Aged Care Helpline on 1800 836 799.

Overview of new Integrated Assessment Tool

We are developing an Integrated Assessment Tool to improve how we assess for government-funded aged care services and programs.

The new tool will collect better information to ensure service recommendations and referrals are tailored to each person’s needs. From April to July 2023, we tested the new tool with around 22,000 older people as they enter aged care.

We expect assessors to begin using the Integrated Assessment Tool in 2024 as part of the single assessment system.

For more information, an overview of the Integrated Assessment Tool is available on our website.  

Aged Care Quality and Safety Advisory Council appointments

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Advisory Council has reappointed Andrea Coote and appointed Professor Valerie Braithwaite. These appointments aim to ensure the Advisory Council is strong and stable to fulfil its legislative requirements more effectively.

Ms Coote was the inaugural Chair of the Advisory Council, prior to stepping down in 2022. She has expertise in public administration and issues affecting the aged care sector.

Professor Braithwaite is Emeritus Professor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance, at the Australian National University. She is a well-recognised and respected leader in regulatory frameworks and governance. 

Read about the Aged Care Quality and Safety Advisory Council.

Keep vulnerable people safe during heatwaves 

Older people are more likely to suffer from severe health concerns due to extreme heat.

This is especially true for those: 

  • with heart disease 
  • who live alone without frequent contact from others. 

During a heatwave, all aged care providers should: 

  • have a list identifying which residents are most at risk  
  • prioritise and monitor the most vulnerable people 
  • have an action plan for each vulnerable person 
  • ensure care recipients stay hydrated and cool  
  • recognise and respond to health deterioration caused by heat.  

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has released a clinical alert providing advice on caring for older people in hot weather.

Aged Care calculation of cost of care form

People can apply to find out how much they need to pay towards their aged care services on the Services Australia website. There are 3 different forms for different circumstances:

These forms replace the Aged Care Calculation of your cost of care form (SA486).

Read more about aged care calculation of your cost of care on the Services Australia website.

Study into the wellbeing and social activities of older people

We have partnered with Monash University to carry out a study into the wellbeing of older people receiving government-subsidised residential aged care or Home Care Packages.

To participate in the study: 

Your involvement will help improve our understanding of ageing in Australia.

Second episode of 'Up to Standard' released

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has released the second episode of the Up to Standard video series. The series addresses common questions on the Aged Care Quality Standards.
   
This latest episode is on the Strengthened Standards Pilot Project. It also discusses how the Commission will use the findings and what the aged care sector can expect once it is completed.
  
If you have questions or feedback about the Standards, please email agedcarereform@agedcarequality.gov.au.

Updated Star Ratings now published on My Aged Care

Updated Star Ratings for residential aged care providers have been published on the My Aged Care website’s ‘Find a provider’ tool.

The update shows continued improvement with 98 per cent of aged care homes meeting or exceeding the level of care expected, reflecting an extra 30 homes achieving this level.

This update shows 54 per cent of aged care homes received 4 or 5 stars - a 15 per cent improvement in 12 months.

The services delivering an unacceptable level of care has decreased by 152 aged care homes in the past year. However, 54 homes still received 1 or 2 stars.

The data shows Star Ratings is helping providers to lift their care quality.

Visit our Star Ratings for residential aged care webpage to view the Star Ratings Improvement Manual and our new resources to support your quality improvement activities.

Emergency leave extended to 31 December 2024

Emergency leave for permanent aged care residents has been extended for 12 months.

This means residents who wish to temporarily relocate during COVID-19 outbreaks can continue to use emergency leave instead of social leave through to 31 December 2024.

Aged care homes will still be paid residential care subsidy when residents are on emergency leave.

Providers are reminded that an emergency leave claiming type is now available in the Aged Care Provider Portal. This means the social leave event type can no longer be used for claiming emergency leave.

For general claiming and payment assistance contact Services Australia on 1800 195 206 or email aged.care.liaison@servicesaustralia.gov.au.

For information on emergency leave see:

January 2024 schedules of fees and charges: change to maximum permissible interest rate

We have published updated schedules of fees and charges for residential and home care recipients. These apply from 1 January 2024 for care recipients who started care: 

The maximum permissible interest rate will increase to 8.38% for the period 1 January to 31 March 2024 for calculating: 

  • residential care accommodation prices  
  • interest on refunds of accommodation lump sum balances. 

View current and past rates.   
 
You must ensure: 

  • your accommodation deposit approvals are up to date 
  • your accommodation prices are correct and up to date on your website and printed materials 
  • your accommodation prices are correct and up to date on the My Aged Care portal.  

For assistance contact the My Aged Care helpline on 1800 836 799.

Quality Indicator reporting opens 1 January 2024

Residential aged care providers are reminded that Quarter 2 Quality Indicator reporting opens 1 January 2024.

Please use the new bulk submission template.

When pasting data into the template use the Paste Values function to make sure the formatting is maintained.

Refer to our guidance materials for help:

We encourage providers to get in early when reporting to make sure data submission occurs smoothly and is finalised by the due date.

If you need assistance contact the My Aged Care helpline on 1800 836 799.

Residents’ Experience Survey 2024

Thank you for your ongoing support for the Residents’ Experience Survey (RES).  
 
The 2023 round of the RES has been successfully completed with 37,382 surveys conducted across 2,625 residential aged care services. The results of RES are provided within six weeks of the survey and can be found using the ‘Find a provider’ tool on My Aged Care
 
The next round of RES will start in February 2024. Services will be contacted from January onwards to schedule the survey. 
 
We’re working with a consortium led by HealthConsult to deliver the survey in 2024 and 2025, to independently and safely capture the experiences of people in residential aged care. 
 
Find out more about the Residents’ Experience Survey on our website.

Quality improvement in residential aged care – share your success stories

We’re inviting residential aged care providers to share examples of quality improvement with our community of practice.

The community of practice was launched at our 2 November webinar: Quality improvement in residential aged care. At the webinar, two providers presented examples of improvement activities using the Plan, Do, Check, Act approach.

Read their case studies or watch the webinar.

We are looking to include real examples of exemplar services who have successfully integrated quality improvement logic into their practice. We’ll publish case studies on our website to showcase your work and inspire the activities of other providers.

If you have a successful quality improvement case study, please email StarRatings@health.gov.au and we’ll be in touch with more details and a case study template.

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If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.