Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) Provider Update
Thursday, 16 November 2023
CHSP Program Management, Home Support Operations Branch
Assistant Secretary, Home Support Operations Branch
Director, Home Support Policy, Home Support Operations Branch
Director, Engagement Section, Legislative Reform Branch
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) provider update’, ‘Martin Dempsey’, ‘Director, Home Support Operations Branch’, ‘agedcareengagement.health.gov.au’, ’16 November 2023’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]
Good afternoon everyone and good morning for people over in Western Australia. Welcome to the Commonwealth Home Support Program update. My name’s Martin Dempsey. I’m the Director of the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
I’d like to start today by also acknowledging any Indigenous people on the line today and I pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.
Today we’re joined by a couple of other presenters. Russell Herald, our Assistant Secretary of the Home Support Operation Branch, Felicity who is the Policy Home Support Director, and also Terry McDonald from the Aged Care Act area.
There’s a lot to actually be going on today because it’s a good time to actually take stock of everything that’s going on in the CHSP Program and where we are at the moment. There’s a lot of interplaying aspects. So what we’re going to be actually talking about today is that we’ve got an update on the CHSP Program. We’ve also got the ability to submit any questions as we go through today. So there’s going to be two points during today’s webinar that we’re going to be taking stock for some of the questions that are coming through on Slido. You can actually submit the questions through Slido, so the top left hand section of the screen. And we’ll be answering as many as we can throughout today’s session and also it will be published on the website afterwards. It is being recorded so this actual session will also be able to be reviewed. And the slides are also currently available on the website as well that you can actually have a look at as we go through.
There’s no option today to actually verbally ask the questions but we will answer all of those questions that we can get through today in the time permitted and as I said we’ll respond as well to any of the ones that we’ve received that we don’t get to today and put them up onto the internet as well.
So as I was going to say the CHSP Program – we’re going to be giving an update of where we’re up to for the extension for 24-25 as well as some of the information to do with the Fair Work Commission and flexibility provisions. Also going to be talking about grant opportunities and what’s available and what’s going to be coming up. We’re going to be talking about the wellness and reablement reports that all CHSP providers have been submitting, the sector support and developments, specialised support services and also the meals and transport pilots. We’re also going to be talking about where the CHSP sits in the broader reforms that are going on at the moment and also the Aged Care Act.
So the first one I’ll start off with today is going to be about the CHSP grant payments for 23-24.
So we released six months of funding in July this year for CHSP providers to be able to deliver the services and the reason why we did that rather than the monthly was because of the Fair Work Commission’s announcement of the 15% pay increase. What that allowed was for any of the providers to be able to actually provide any pay increases to eligible staff so that they could continue delivering the services but with no financial debt to them. What we’re actually going to be doing as well is that we’re going to be releasing five additional more months of funding, so five more months later on this month, and that’s to avoid any financial strain on any of the providers to make sure that any of those eligible staff are receiving that 15% increase. So just repeat that you’ll be receiving an extra five months of funding at the end of this month. So the monthly payments will be paused for a little bit longer. I’ll go into the reasons why later on in the section when I talk about the Fair Work Commission and where we’re up to with that particular grant opportunity.
The next thing I’d like to talk about is the recovery of any unspent funds. So providers at the moment have been receiving some DTIs, so data tax invoices for the recovery of unspent funds for previous financial years. We also have been receiving the 22-23 financial declarations and outcome notices will be coming out shortly about those particular ones. We did have any new money that was provided during the 22-23 was automatically rolled over into the 23-24 year allowing providers to be able to use that money. Because in many instances a full year of money was provided late in the financial year so allowed those organisations to build their capacity to actually deliver those services.
For the current year, the 23-24, we won’t be allowing any rollover of funding into the 24-25 year. So the money that’s being paid out in the current year needs to be spent within the current year. No new money will be allowed to be rolled over into the 24-25.
So all the work that’s been going on across the program is that we’ve been looking at our compliance. A lot of our compliance has been looking at contracted outputs against service delivery, taking in considerations such as flexibility provisions which I’ll get into in a minute, and how providers have actually been delivering the services. We’ve recently written out to a number of providers asking for some information about how that actual service delivery has been impacted and why some of the services that have been delivered for the grant funding are low at the moment. And so the providers that have been contacted about that have got another two weeks and we’ve been following up with those particular providers through reminders.
We’ve got some providers out there that we just want to understand the reasons as to why some of this service delivery is low – there’s often very valid reasons as to why – so that we can sort of make determinations about any of the potential issues that we do have. There are going to be some instances where service delivery is very low and we would be looking at trying to have conversations with providers to justify the level of funding going forward and if that’s the appropriate amount.
We have also noticed in terms of the actual contract we have taken into consideration the flexibility provisions and how providers have been moving services around and delivering it. So in some instances the flexibility and how that’s being used is actually going to explain a lot of the situations.
So flexibility provisions. We extended the program last year and it had 100% flexibility provisions in there and I think there’s a bit of a clarification point that needed to be had. So what we have done is we did update the manual to sort of be clear about what the flexibility provisions is allowing and what we do want is for increased service delivery to allow for providers that where there is a lower demand for service types in an area to be able to reallocate that into where there is a bigger demand for the service types that they are funded for and within the aged care planning regions that they’ve got funding. We have then provided instructions about saying well we want 50%, in terms of the ability use 50% a round, and the reason for that is to make sure that there is not significant shifts from one aged care planning region or service type into another particular service type leaving potential continuity of service issues for some clients as well as to make sure that there is service availability in all of those aged care planning regions and service types that had funding.
If some providers did actually go beyond that 50% engage with the FAM and we’ll be looking at just trying to create those contracts to marry up to the service provision. There shouldn’t be any negative impact for any of the service providers to do with that particular slight change. That wasn’t the intent at all. It is to make sure though that we do remain to keep services within areas and within service types whilst also allowing for service providers to increase their service delivery across their contract and the services that they’re funded for in the aged care planning regions that they’re funded for. Those flexibility provisions will remain part of the 24-25 contract going forward.
So grant opportunities. There’s the four that I’m going to be just touching on very quickly. That’s the 24-25 grant extension to start off with. We have got permission in the May Budget to extend the program for another one year. I fully understand some of the potential frustrations about that since this will be the third one year extension for this particular program. We have though worked very hard to try and align some of the program’s objectives with the other aged care funding. So you would all know that we’ve gotten our monthly payments and we’ve also got monthly reporting. That monthly reporting has been very valuable for us in terms of planning and seeing seasonal trends in a more live environment. The situation we’re in at the moment though is that we’re doing the same thing that we had to do the year before and the year before that.
So we’re going to be shortly having a grant opportunity that we’ll be opening. It will be through GrantConnect on this particular instance and that’s to ensure that we have all contract details 100% up to date. So we’ll be using the GrantConnect website to be able to be publishing the grant guidelines. It will be a very similar process besides going through GrantConnect that we had for all existing CHSP providers the same as last year. And as I said the reason why we’re going through GrantConnect is just to make sure that everything in our actual contract and the legal entities that we’re contracting are 100% up to date and accurate.
So once the grant opportunities do actually go live there will be an email that will be going to the primary contact that we usually contact with all the providers inviting them to apply. That will allow for providers to exactly know the funding that we’re offering for next year and it will be similar to the funding that you’ve got now with indexation applied. The opportunity for this extension isn’t a growth opportunity though. We have got the approval to be able to extend the current contracts into next year and I’ll be talking about growth opportunities in a second but the actual extension is separate from any growth opportunities that we can do. It is recontracting all the providers now for next financial year.
It will be a new Grant Agreement which I think is a really good opportunity for a lot of providers because some providers’ Grant Agreements are incredibly long. This particular grant has been in place for some providers since 2018. This will be a really good opportunity to start with a one year contract from new. So from 1 July next year that will be a new contract in place. The contract will look incredibly similar to the one that you’ve got right now. It doesn’t change in terms of structure. It will be the same structure with an activity work plan and terms and conditions and supplementary terms and conditions.
So moving onto the next grant opportunity. We have had open now for a while a grant opportunity which allows providers to apply for additional funding. Emergency funding, services in demand and innovation. It’s had a couple of different iterations over the last couple of years but what we have had since the extension of the program for the one year, many providers have applied for some additional funding mostly in service demand. We had a funding allocation of $15 million for this current year. That money was exhausted and we are seeking additional funding. There should be an announcement coming out fairly soon about that. In the meantime though in the emergency circumstances please still submit any ad hoc applications. We are going to be progressing them. It’s a pause at the moment.
The growth funding. So in our last webinar that we had there was a mention of growth funding. We are still looking at that. We’re aware that there are services that are in demand. One of the things that we’ve been doing through some of our compliance work is where there’s services that haven’t been utilised and providers have been giving up some of their money we’ve been reallocating that. So there has been opportunities there. We’ve been able to get some more money out into the sector to ensure that the service provision continues. And regarding further growth in terms of service types and aged care planning regions there will be further information coming out about the growth funding opportunities soon.
The other one that’s actually open at the moment and this does apply to quite a few CHSP providers, this is about the Fair Work Commission base funding grant. And this is one of the things I want to be really clear about how the interaction’s happening at the moment. So it’s been open now for a couple of weeks and closes at the end of this month. Providers who have got staff who are affected by the particular awards are eligible to apply. The grant guidelines which are on GrantConnect will provide further information about this. Once submitted and approved it will be through a letter of agreement. So the money will come fairly shortly post approval. And this interaction is the reason why we released an additional five months of funding. So the release of the CHSP providers’ current funding for this year, the five months release, is because this grant opportunity is open at the moment. So to ensure that there’s no negative financial impact for any of the CHSP providers, that’s why we released extra.
The other thing that this particular grant does not include is the historical leave liabilities. That will be another grant opportunity that will be available shortly for providers to be able to apply. So going back to the extension for 24-25 for the CHSP Program the Fair Work Commission does have interaction. The letter of invitation because of timing might not have the Fair Work Commission approval funding in it. In those instances it will be in the final offer for the 24-25. So there’s two parts to it. For the Fair Work Commission base funding grant you’ll get a letter of offer for the 23-24 if you’ve been found successful, and we’ll incorporate that into your 24-25 extension money against the service types that were applied for.
So some of the questions.
Some of the questions that we’ve got coming up at the moment.
Q: Can all providers apply for the Fair Work Commission funding?
If eligible yes. You are allowed to apply. So the grant opportunity allows you to be able to actually give those particular pieces of information and outlines the eligibility criteria. So yes you are able to apply for those particular ones.
Q: The late change from 100% flexibility to 50% has been a challenging impact. Is there capacity to adjust the 24 agreements based on this late notice?
Well as I mentioned a little bit earlier yes. So we will be able to adjust that. That would be the conversation you have with the FAMS. It would be based on obviously your reporting and evidence that that has actually occurred above the 50%. But yes it shouldn’t be negatively impacting you as an organisation. Hopefully the justification in terms of making sure that money doesn’t fully move out of areas and the service types that your organisation’s funding for helps providers understand the reasons why that changed. But yes we will be able to adjust any contracts that have gone above and beyond that.
Q: When can we expect the new CHSP unit pricing to be released?
So we’re expecting very shortly that a fact sheet will be released on the internet in the coming weeks. That will outline all the different service types and the new unit pricing for the 24-25. We still are going to have MMM loading 6 and 7 in the contract. So if your organisation has got a loading it will still be applied to those particular unit prices above it. There’s more information on that in the manual but that will still continue.
Q: Will SSD funding be rolled over into the 24-25 period?
I think that question if I interpret it right is is SSD being funded into the 24-25 period. Yes it will be and I think Felicity is going to be speaking a little bit more on SSD later. But yes SSD is a part of the CHSP Program during the 24-25 contract.
This is a good question as well and this affects a lot of the transport providers. So we did have a fuel grant opportunity earlier on where as part of the ad hoc applications providers with particular – depending on how much fuel they were using they could apply for additional dollars for fuel. We’re looking at reinstating that so there will be some information coming out about that later on.
Q: When will we receive the payment for January onwards?
So that’s that five months that I was talking about. Late November that should be going out. Late November. So it should be in providers’ bank accounts late November, early December, depending on how it clears.
Q: Are you monitoring the number of assessments being completed by regional assessment services? There seems to be a significant decline in assessments and this has impacted on service delivery.
So I just might read that one out again and then also Russell you might want to assist me in this one a little bit. But it’s:
Q: Are you monitoring the number of assessments being completed by regional assessment services? There appears to be a significant decline in assessments and this has an impact on service delivery.
So yes we are monitoring it. We use that as part of our modelling in terms of growth funding and where money should be going as well in terms of assessments and clients who have been approved as eligible to receive CHSP services. In terms of a significant decline I think that it’s very localised and depending on where it is. So we’ve got obviously our ACATs and our RASs. We have been seeing increases in some areas but I haven’t seen any significant decreases. Rusty is there anything that you want to add about the RASs and the assessments?
No. In general we are seeing across the board higher approval numbers for aged care services so I don’t see anything which is systematic of a reduction through the RASs. But I’m more than interested in understanding if there’s a particular issue where you are. So if you wanted to get in touch with us with those details separately or on the Q&A we can go and have a look to see if there is something in that area.
Thanks Rusty. This is a good question about the extension.
Q: Will the extension allow providers to renegotiate outputs within the service types we offer? Eg social support group has minimal demand. Would a provider be eligible to negotiate to shift the funding to a more demand service type?
So there’s two things in that. The first one would be we’re not allowing new service types to be negotiated as part of this unless there’s a historical anomaly to be addressed. The second part would be that we’d be looking at the flexibility provisions to allow that to be delivered anyway. We will fix up any historical service delivery aspects that I said earlier, so because of the change from 100% to 50%. So we will be adjusting that. But we wouldn’t be wanting to have a provider for instance who’s never been funded for domestic assistance all of a sudden try to move money from one service type into domestic assistance unless there was an incredibly valid reason to do so such as we’ve always been delivering it but it’s been under a different service type.
So I’ll pause there but we will take more questions at the end. But we’ll just keep on going into the next aspect of the presentation and then we’ll come back and answer more questions.
Thanks Martin. So today I’ll be talking to you about the Wellness and Reablement Reports, sector support and development and specialised support services. So in 2021 and 2022 we conducted the fourth and fifth annual Wellness and Reablement Report and we received over 1,200 responses each year. We will be publishing the results of these reports in the coming months but overall the analysis shows that the clients are actually benefiting from participation in tasks, development of new skills and abilities and social connections. What we did find is that between 2021 and 2022 there was actually a small decline in the implementation of wellness and reablement approaches and we noticed that there were fewer individual care plans developed for clients, less client participation in tasks with or alongside staff, less clients regaining skills or new abilities and reduced client adaptation to functional limitations and decreased reports of client social connections and participation.
Service providers did attribute these challenges to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lack of understanding of wellness and reablement within organisations, workforce issues and limited resources and support. The 2023 Wellness and Reablement Report has also just recently closed and again we received just over 1,200 online responses and we’re currently going through and analysing those responses now. As part of the 2023 report we did actually ask for all providers to give us feedback on the questions and we’re going to be using this to inform a review of the questions for the 2024 Wellness and Reablement Report. And what we’re also going to be doing is looking to see what other support service providers actually need in order to support that wellness and reablement best practice. So we are going to be reviewing the current online training, resources and other supports and that includes the Wellness and Reablement Community of Practice.
For SSD or Sector Support and Development over the last two years SSD has undergone some significant changes and this is to ensure that the services are supporting the CHSP sector. So in 2023-24 the objective of Sector Support and Development has been updated and we’ve tried to focus on increasing that CHSP provider capability and improving the quality of service delivery and we’ve tried to achieve this through the development of some primary target focus areas. So what we’ve done, we’ve still got the 75% and 25% funding split and under the 75% category we’ve developed nine focus areas and these relate to the Community of Practice participation, workforce enhancements, partnerships, supporting the volunteer workforce, developing and disseminating information about CHSP and the reforms, and improving capability when it comes to business practices and compliance.
Under the 25% category there’s now only one focus area and this relates to those direct services such as navigation supports. But more information about these primary focus areas can be found in the CHSP Manual.
What hasn’t changed in 23-24 for SSD. We’ve still got the mandatory participation in the Community of Practice. The flexibility provisions remain the same where funding can be allocated into SSD but it can’t be reallocated out of SSD without that prior written approval. And we’ve still got the biannual performance reports where providers report on their activities delivered between July to December 2023 and January to June 2024.
So this leads on to the activity work plans. So we are in the process of finalising all the activity work plans at the moment. And although this has taken longer than we’d originally anticipated it will ensure that all the activity work plans are within that scope for the 23-24 policy and it aligns with those primary focus areas that are in the manual. It’s also going to help to create consistency across all the activity work plans and allow for that smoother analysis to inform future policy. So I’m happy to say that the majority of SSD activity work plans have now been assessed and are either approved or have been given conditional approval. So conditional approvals were given to help speed up the approval process and if you have been given conditional approval we just need you to make sure that you review your activity work plan to make sure that you’re happy with any of the changes. If you have any concerns please contact your funding arrangement manager.
The Community of Practice has now been live for 12 months and it’s been really successful. So we’ve had over 10,000 posts which demonstrates the value that SSD providers have found by using the platform particularly for networking, sharing resources and discussing those key issues around the reforms.
We are also looking at publishing a service directory which will include the Sector Support and Development service provider details and this is going to be publicly available for all CHSP service providers and will allow them to seek out the Sector Support and Development officer if they need support in certain areas. And I did notice some questions in the Q&A and like Martin said before SSD will be extended in 2024-25 and that’s in line with the CHSP extension.
So with Specialised Support Services throughout 2022 we did some consultations with the SSS sector and found that a significant number of providers were delivering a variety of services that weren’t necessarily aligned with what the objective is for SSS. So we’ve developed a new definition which came into effect on 1 July 2023 and we’ve tried to make it really clear that SSS is a specialised service for frail, older people who are living at home with either a clinical condition or if they’ve got specialised needs, so particularly those CALD groups. So SSS services should provide a holistic and integrated approach for people with diverse and/or individualised needs and it should comprise of a mix of advisory, targeted support and tailored advice. The services are intended to be clinical in nature and should not substitute the primary health services or allied health services available through the healthcare system or other CHSP services.
So throughout the 24-25 extension process providers will have an opportunity to fix any historical anomalies particularly if they are delivering clinical services under SSS. And you’ll have the opportunity to align that to a more appropriate service type like your allied health and therapy or nursing. We did publish a fact sheet on the new definition and these changes back in June this year and that can be found under the CHSP resources web page. We will continue to be doing some reviews on the services delivered under SSS and we’re currently doing a demand analysis and this is to help to determine if there’s any gaps in the services around Australia.
All right. So thanks Felicity. So the next part of today is just going to be talking about the proposed projects about the meals and transport. So Rusty this one’s over to you.
Well hello all. So just quickly as part of the broader in-home aged care reform journey particularly in the context of Support at Home reforms Government’s very interested in making sure we are maintaining the social capital components of our services. Now that principally comes through our social support service types and CHSP as well as our meals and community transport organisations where we have that social component, the volunteers, the community element. And what we’re trying to do at the moment is think about ways to embed that social capital construct within the architecture of CHSP and the in-home aged care system more broadly into the future.
So what we’re working to do at the moment, or at least looking at doing, is trying to do a bit of piloting or evaluating of a number of potential options of how we might do that. And that would involve adjusting our policy framework for meals and transport for a subset of CHSP providers and introducing potentially alternate funding models that separate the component parts of the unit prices into poor service delivery, so the meal or the transport, against the social capital volunteer engagement angle. So that’s a bit of ongoing work. We don’t have a full picture of it at this point in time but we are thinking a bit about that for the 24-25 extension process. And while I don’t have any definitive advice for it today just wanted to spell out and make people aware that we are looking into this so that the future state world is more reflective – or the architecture of the future world is more reflective of what people do on the ground and that community benefit.
So that’s where we are and it would involve a degree of codesigned policy development with pilot recipients and hopefully by 30 June 2025 then we’ll have some really good information to be able to lock into that next phase of the reforms.
Thanks Rusty. This one’s going to be staying with you about the broader reforms but one of the questions that’s come in which you might be able to talk about is just about:
Q: Will single assessment be in place?
Is the question.
So single assessment reforms, they are due to commence from 1 July 2024. Now the plan is for them to be in place but there is limited that I can say at this point in time because it is subject to a competitive tender process. So I can’t speak to what that material looks like until that tender process becomes live which we’re hoping will be in the not too distant future. So what I would suggest is a little bit more patience and wait a couple of weeks and hopefully we’ll be able to provide you with a bit more information.
And anything more about the Support at Home?
Sorry. I’ll go through the slide. Yep. So Support at Home. So that’s the big question mark that’s out there in the system is when the providers are going to get detail about what that looks like. Now there is a webinar that is now I think available to register for come the 14th of December which is a specific topic on Support at Home and we’ll go through all of that material and guidance with providers about what will happen on 1 July 2025. So I can’t say too much at this point in time but what I will ask you to do is register for that webinar because that will be a decent flood of information coming through that process.
And then the final thing I wanted to talk to everyone about was the new Aged Care Act and associated regulatory changes particularly on CHSP. So the element for me of major importance is that the Commonwealth Home Support Program is intended to come under the proposed new Aged Care Act and so there will be a significant adjustment for CHSP providers in that space 1 July 2024. And what I’ll do now is hand over to Terry McDonald who’s joining us from the legislation team to give a bit of an update on where we are with that new Act, the development and its consultation process.
Thanks Rusty and thanks everybody for having me along today. My name’s Terry McDonald. I’m a Director in the Legislative Reform Branch as Rusty said. And I’m here today to talk to you about the new Aged Care Act. So noting the focus of today’s webinar is on CHSP I’ll provide a very high level overview of the new Act with a particular focus on its interactions with CHSP.
So what’s new and what’s different in the new Aged Care Act? The new Act and rules that accompany the Act are going to replace the entire existing aged care legislative framework. So it’s going to include a statement of rights and pathways for people to have their rights upheld. It will create a single entry point to the aged care system with clear eligibility requirements and a fair culturally appropriate single assessment. It will support the delivery of a range of aged care services including in-home care services. It will put in place new system oversight and accountability arrangements and introduce a new approach to regulating aged care which will encourage delivery of high quality care and strengthen powers of the Commission.
So CHSP will be brought under the new Act. This means that individuals seeking access to services under CHSP will need to apply and be assessed by the new single entry point for the aged care system with provision still available for care to be assessed immediately in emergency situations. It will also mean that CHSP providers will be registered through the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission under the new Act which will ensure that there is a consistent approach to regulation of aged care providers across the sector.
So what are the new eligibility requirements and the single assessment process? So the next component in my presentation is about the eligibility requirements for funded aged care services. So we’re looking to achieve a single entry point into a streamlined system with common eligibility requirements and a single assessment framework for all Commonwealth funded aged care services. So this will reflect the person-centred approach of the new Act and align with the Royal Commission’s recommendations. The intention is that the new Act will provide a common entry point and eligibility requirements for access to funded aged care services. The aim is to achieve a simple gateway to aged care in the new Act and limit the need for older people to tell their story on repeat occasions. Everyone seeking access to aged care services under the new Act will need to make an application, meet eligibility requirements, show that they have some need for aged care and participate in an individual needs assessment which will lead to a decision about whether they can access funded aged care services, which ones and when.
This approach has some key benefits. It will establish a single application process for all funded aged care services. There will be a common set of eligibility requirements for all aged care programs. There won’t be a need for eligibility to be reassessed for different programs. The requirements will be transparent with a delegate to decide whether a person is eligible for a needs assessment. And there will also be streamlined evidentiary requirements for certain referral pathways such as referral from a medical perspective.
So we’re currently consulting on the eligibility requirements however at this stage we’re proposing that to be eligible to proceed to a formal needs assessment an individual must either be aged 65 and over and have care needs or be aged between 50 and 64 and be an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person or homeless or at risk of homelessness. For the younger people cohort they will also need to have been informed of alternate options available to meet their needs and that to have express access to aged care services is their will and preference taking into account the information provided regarding alternative options.
So we’re aware that CHSP provides for specific entry arrangements for First Nations people aged 45 to 49 who are also homeless or at risk of homelessness and that this would be a change from that policy.
So what are the next steps with consultations on the Exposure Draft of the Bill for the new Aged Care Act? Where are we going now? Subject to Government agreement we’re hoping to release an Exposure Draft of the Bill for the new Act before the end of the year. We’re preparing a consultation paper which will help interested stakeholders to understand how the aged care policy reforms are reflected in the Bill and the consultation paper will be released alongside the Exposure Draft of the Bill. The consultations will run until mid-February and will have opportunity to lodge submissions, register, attend workshops and information sessions, and we’re also planning on having face to face workshops in capital cities and regional locations across Australia.
Like Rusty said I’m also going to take this opportunity to spruik the webinar on 14 December which will include a focus on the new Aged Care Act as well. So I strongly encourage you all to register to attend and registrations have gone live today. Now further information about our Exposure Draft consultations will be available on the Aged Care Engagement Hub when the consultations launch. And that’s it from me and I’ll pass back to Marty.
Thanks Terry. Just because you were talking I’ve got a couple of recent questions for you. Question.
Q: Doesn’t the new Bill for the new Aged Care Act need to go through Parliament? Will this be for 1 July 2024?
First question. Yes. Absolutely correct. The Bill for the new Act will go to Parliament before it can be enforced. Our plan is to introduce the Bill to Parliament next year so that we can meet that 1 July ’24 commencement date.
This is a CHSP one.
Q: Is My Aged Care portal being updated along with the Support at Home? It is very difficult to use.
The My Aged Care portal is constantly being adjusted to be better to assist the clients and service providers to be able to use. One of the things that we want to be looking at very specifically while there’s so many of you on the line is looking at service availability and the use of making it available when it is available for clients to be able to access. That’s been one of the issues that we get a lot of feedback on. But to answer that question it is constantly being looked at and how it can be greater improved.
There’s been a bit of questions about some providers who want to become CHSP providers and the extension process. So I’ll just go back on a couple of things. The extension process is a closed process to the current CHSP providers. It does require though CHSP providers who are currently funded to – it is an application but it’s a closed application to get that information in, the same as what happened last year. You had to respond to say yes we do want to actually take part for 24-25.
One of the questions was:
Q: What about if we don’t want to take part in 24-25?
That’s one of the questions that comes out there in terms of the response when the grant opportunity is released in the next couple of weeks, but also if you know already that your organisation is not looking to continue please be in contact with your funding arrangement manager to actually start those conversations so that we can assist in trying to find an alternative service provider to take on those clients and services in the area.
Q: Is the unit pricing I mentioned for support at home or is it for the CHSP ranges?
When I said that there’s going to be a fact sheet that’s going to be published that is about the 24‑25 year. So the unit pricing is only to do with the CHSP for next year. It’s not the Support at Home unit prices. Rusty the question sort of goes on a little bit about then the Support at Home and the unit price work there. Is there anything that you could talk about in that aspect?
So at the moment IHACPA, or the Independent Hospitals and Aged Care Pricing Authority are undertaking a number of studies around the pricing structure to support the role of Support at Home. It’s an ongoing piece of work that we don’t have the answers to today but that’s one of those bits of information that will become available in the coming period of time to allow providers to understand where they sit in the future world. So that’s probably where we are there.
Okay. One of the questions we got as well was about:
Q: Will there be block funding for First Nations communities in thin market areas?
I think that’s more of a Support at Home question which we’ll have more answers on the next webinar on the 14th. For the CHSP Program it’s still block funded for next year. Building on a little bit of my response earlier about the extension being closed we did mention also that there’s growth. That’s one of the things that we’re looking at which we’d be looking at trying to get new players into the market as well. So that answers quite a few questions which are trying to see providers enter into the market.
Terry this one’s going to go to you.
Q: Are there any residency status requirements in the new system?
Good question. So my understanding is that the new Aged Care Act won’t have a citizenship test but you will I think have to be a permanent resident. But I’m just looking at my screen for one of my team to make sure that I haven’t said the wrong thing and it looks like I’ve said the right thing.
We’ll come back and clarify if not. That’s great. Thank you. I’ve got another question. This is about CHSP. Rusty I might throw to you about this one.
Q: Will CHSP services continue not to be means tested?
So at the moment as was announced earlier in the last Commonwealth Budget process we’ve got an Aged Care Taskforce in operation which is due to hand down its report in the not too distant future. Part of that process involves looking at continual contributions for the new system. Now ideally we will [0:48:10] of the aged care system but those decisions haven’t yet been made. But I’m hoping that they will become available for people to work through and understand over the next few months.
Okay. Thank you. There’s quite a few questions about service demand. I can start it and then Rusty maybe you want to – or actually maybe you want to answer it. But this is basically:
Q: What about areas that clients can’t get CHSP services and haven’t been able to for some period of time? What are we trying to do to fix that particular problem?
Yep. And so we can see that as well from our end that there are particular areas where there is a slight mismatch between service availability and demand. And we are looking at ways in which we can work through and deliver better access to services. In recent years the growth of services in the in-home aged care system has been taken up by home care packages as we’ve released a bit over 80,000 new packages over the last few years. We’re now in a slightly different cycle and we are looking at whether or not there are opportunities to address some of those issues. We are having these conversations with Government. We know that there are particular pressures impacting areas such as domestic assistance, home maintenance and other health and community transport. So we’ll be thinking about what we can do there and without committing to anything I’m hoping to be able to work with the team here to provide some advice in the not too distant future about any opportunity that may come up.
This is another one just about – really it does go back to growth.
Q: What if a provider has used all their flexibility arrangements but still have the ability to take on new clients but don’t have the funding? Is there a way to get any extra funding?
So I’ve mentioned before that we’re planning to do some sort of growth round. But we’ve got the grant ad hoc opportunity at the moment which is a $250K limit per year. That is at the moment as I said just exhausted. We’re trying to rectify that particular situation. But that’s the avenue only at the moment that we can get any additional funding in for CHSP.
Q: Will garden and home maintenance unit pricing model be reviewed as part of the transport and meals review?
At this point no because that is being looked at more closely by the IHACPA, or Independent Hospitals and Aged Care Pricing Authority. And we are working with them on those processes. There is obviously some challenges on our end around how much change we can do within a system or how much testing we can do within a one year extension of the system. And so at this point we’re only focusing on those areas that have that high social capital component as opposed to the gardening and home maintenance aspect.
This one is again about service access.
Q: So there’s service shortages across the country and there’s inability to find access for CHSP services in particular domestic assistance. Is there a mechanism to basically move funding around to meet the demand?
I think that one of the things is about the flexibility. That is supposed to allow that to occur. So when there hasn’t been access for particular service types that money can be moved up to 50% into those more demand services. That’s a significant shift from where we were a couple of years ago which initially we started off with I think it was 10% and then with COVID we opened it right up. So it is supposed to allow for services to move some of that money around to where there is a greater demand but going back to the point that Rusty was making earlier we’re aware that there is significant demand out there for CHSP and home care package services.
Q: Will there be closer monitoring of referrals to prevent situations where a referral is accepted on the portal but a provider never puts services in place or rejects referrals six months down the track?
Rusty do you want to have a start or I can answer it.
I might palm back to you in a sec. It is a bit of a challenge in CHSP in monitoring the flow of clients between My Aged Care and providers who accept the referrals. It sort of goes off our books on visibility a little bit and it makes it hard for us to sort of capture that view. But we are definitely interested in understanding that dynamic more to see if there are actions that we can take. That’s sort of from my viewpoint but Martin you probably have a slightly better viewpoint than me.
Well I think it does go back to that service availability as well and use of My Aged Care. So there is definitely avenues for us to explore there. And using our compliance framework at the moment behaviour and what happens in the system we are going to be looking at. We understand while we haven’t encouraged waitlists we understand that in some circumstances there’s very valid reasons as to why some providers have small waitlists for services. But what we have also found is situations where some clients have taken a client off the system and they’ve been sitting on a waitlist for a significant amount of time rather than actually staying in the system. While that sometimes is because the client prefers it, they’ve specifically said ‘We want to stay with your particular organisation’ what that does do though is it takes the demand off the system that we can’t see and puts it back onto the provider’s actual books.
Q: Is there any advice on what GEAT and home modifications will look like?
So we are currently consulting at the moment and have put out documents about the concept of a single assisted technology and home modifications program as part of the design of the Support at Home system, fundamentally designed to ensure that we don’t have the current situation with home care packages where people are needing to trade off the delivery of care to save up enough funding to get their assisted technology needs. But also looking into whether or not we can for particularly high cost items look at loan programs or other mechanics to ensure availability of that technology. It’s in its design stage at the moment and more work needs to be done on all of that. We won’t have any more clear answers on that for a period of time. They will talk about that on the 14th of December but there is still a view at this point that we would transition to something by 1 July 2025 which is in that space. There’s just a number of mechanics still to be resolved.
Thanks Rusty. I might have to stop the questions there. But the good thing that I’ve seen especially with so many people on the line – we had up to about 1,800 on this particular webinar – that there’s a lot of questions that have been asked. And fully appreciate within an hour that we can’t get to all of them. So I’ve tried to do a gamut, a broad gamut of the types. So we’ve had Aged Care Act questions, we’ve had service demand questions, we’ve had the extension questions. All of these questions will be answered and put onto our website in the coming days once we actually can respond to them and publish them. The slides are available but there will also be a recording available for this particular session.
I do want to just remind people about that webinar on the 14th, so at 2:00pm on the 14th, and to register for that. That will cover the Aged Care Act a little bit more and the new support program in more detail than what we could do today. Because today’s was really about the interaction of CHSP, where we’re at at the moment and in terms of the extension. Recapping that, soon the GOGs will be live on GrantConnect. Providers will get an email, existing providers. The existing providers will then have to go on GrantConnect and respond. If you’re looking to be not continuing services please be in contact with your funding arrangement manager. So right now you could make that response. But at the same time there is an opportunity in the grant extension to actually put that as one of your responses as well.
There is a survey post this as well. I think it’s just a one question survey that you might want to answer. But as I said I want to just thank all of the presenters here today. Hopefully they’ve been able to answer some of your questions. I appreciate it’s not all of them. And there is going to be a lot of movement in the coming weeks. We spoke about the extension grant opportunities. We’ve got the Fair Work Commission closing on the 30th so please make sure that if you have any questions about that look at the grant opportunity guidelines. And also you can actually submit a question to get some clarification as well through the GrantConnect if there’s any questions that you have about that.
Besides that I just want to say thank you very much for your interest today. It is a large program. We’ve got a lot of people that you guys deliver services to and this movement at the moment, where we’re up to, we’re really trying to support those particular clients so that they can get as much access as possible. We are hearing the feedback about service availability. We will be trying to adjust that. But right now what we’re also trying to do is extend the program for one year and we’ll make sure that the service continuity for those clients continues.
So thank you very much for your time. And as I said you can review this later on on the web. Thank you.
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