Home Care Packages Program – Changes to Financial Reporting requirements & Program Assurance Reviews
This video provides information on the changes to financial reporting requirements for Home Care Packages (HCP) Program approved providers and the start of HCP Program Assurance Reviews.
Hello everyone and thank you for joining us today.
Welcome to the webinar about changes to the Home Care Packages Program, Financial Reporting Requirements and the upcoming Program Assurance Reviews.
My name is Rebecca Richardson, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Home Care and Assessments Branch.
This webinar will be recorded and will be made available on the Health website shortly.
Today, I am joined by my colleagues, Mark Richards, Assistant Director of the Financial Reporting Analysis Section.
And Chamandeep Chehl, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Program Assurance Branch.
First, a quick overview of how today's webinar will run. I'm going to provide high-level information on the first Annual Financial Report for the 2021-22 Financial Year.
And then Mark will provide a more thorough presentation of the Draft Financial Report.
After Mark's presentation, we'll have some time for questions from you regarding the report.
And in particular, we’re interested in hearing about any issues you may foresee.
Chamandeep Chehl will then provide information about the upcoming Home Care Package Program Assurance Reviews.
If you have any questions during the presentation, please use the Q and A function on the bottom right side of your screen and select send to all our presenters.
A moderator team will then provide these to the presenters during the Q and A portion of the webinar.
We only have a fairly short time for questions today, but any questions we don't get to will be taken down and responded to after the webinar.
We also have an email feedback channel open until 5pm, next Tuesday, the 31st of August.
Please send any emails to our inbox, hcoperations [at] health.gov.au
Now a little bit of high-level information about the reports.
In response to the Royal Commission's recommendations on accountability and transparency about how providers use subsidies and fees, the new financial reporting arrangements will be introduced for providers, from October 2022.
The revised arrangements include expanded annual Aged Care Financial Reports and quarterly financial reports.
The quarterly report is expected to be a subset of the annual report requirements.
Today, we're only going to focus on the annual report and will provide more information about the quarterly report in the coming weeks.
The first expanded annual report for the 2021-22 financial year is due on the 31st of October 2022, just over 1 year from now.
I hope you have all had the chance to review the draft Aged Care Financial Report on the Department's website.
If you haven't yet, it's available from the Reporting for Home Care Packages web page.
We'd like to thank Aged and Community Services Australia, and Leading Age Services Australia and their members for early feedback they have already provided.
We have taken your comments on board and will consider this further alongside any comments and feedback we receive today and over the coming week.
With the upcoming Improved Payment Arrangement changes from September 1st this year, we've also included a new question in the Aged Care Financial Report.
This will ask how many providers are collecting the payable income tested care fee from their care recipients and who has waived it.
We acknowledge that there are a number of changes impacting Home Care Providers, occurring in parallel.
And there's also a number of consultations that the Department is seeking input from providers on such as the upcoming reforms.
I'd just like to take the opportunity to thank providers for your support in implementing the Royal Commission recommendations and to make improvements to the age care system. Your feedback is really valuable.
That's all for me for now, I'm going to hand over to Mark Richards to talk in more detail about the expanded annual Aged Care Financial Report.
Mark is the Assistant Director of the Financial Reporting Analysis Section.
For those on the line, it would help if you’ve got the draft annual ACFR open in front of you to work through.
The slides really aren’t ideal for looking at that sort of financial data.
You may find it easier to follow along on Excel rather than the presentation slides.
So, as mentioned the Department is looking to make changes to the Aged Care Financial Report, or ACFR reporting requirements for home care providers commencing in the 2021-22 financial year.
This will mean that the first amended ACFR will be due four months after the end of the financial year we're currently in, which will be the 31st of October 2022.
There are three main changes being proposed to the home care reporting requirements
- Introduction of approved provider level reporting.
- The introduction of a consolidated parent level segment report.
- And an expanded home care segment income statement.
So just going through each of those and a little bit more detail, starting with the approved provider reporting.
In order for the Department to make an assessment of home care providers overall financial viability, approved provider level reporting is being introduced for home care providers as part of the 21-22 ACFR.
Home Care Providers will be required to complete the same approved provider level income statement, balance sheet and cash flow statement as currently completed by residential aged care providers.
So, for those providers that provide both residential and home care, it will just be the one set of approved provider accounts. You won't have to fill in two different sets of numbers.
As the approved provider level financial statements are completed by both residential and home care providers, the Department does acknowledge that not all data items will be applicable for home care-only providers. It will just be appropriate for you to put a 0 in those fields.
For example, information about refundable accommodation deposits won’t be applicable for home care providers.
Moving on to the parent level segment report.
The consolidated parent level segment report is being introduced into the 2020-211 ACFR for residential aged care providers only, but will be required from both residential and home care providers as part of the 21-22 ACFR.
Many approved providers have operating activities, beyond those governed by the Aged Care Act, and are part of corporate structures that do not submit financial information to the Department.
To further assist the Department in making an assessment of an approved provider’s overall financial viability, greater visibility over the financial operations of the consolidated group is required.
Hence, the new consolidated parent level segment report will capture income and expenses, assets and liabilities data across the consolidated related group.
The Department acknowledges that if items are held centrally, apportioning balance sheet items between segments can be difficult and may not be reflective of operational circumstances.
Therefore, cash and cash equivalents, financial assets and equity items are only being collected at the consolidated level and are not required to be segmented.
For the rest of the items, providers should make a reasonable estimate to apportion the other balance sheet items where a clear distinction cannot be made between segments.
For arguments sake, apportioning unspent home care funds is straightforward enough.
It will just go to the home care segment, whereas employee entitlements across multiple segments may require some apportioning.
If the approved provider is part of a group and is not the parent entity of the group, the consolidated parent level segment report needs to be completed at the parent level.
However, where there is no parent entity, or if the approved provider is actually the parent organisation, then the segment report is to be completed at the approved provider level.
And there are instructions on the ACFR portal that do outline that point as well, so that when you go to complete, you'll be able to make a decision about which option to choose.
And as is the case with residential care, both the new approved provider reporting and consolidated parent level segment report are not required to be submitted by state and local government home care providers.
The last changes are to the home care segment income statement.
To improve the accountability and transparency on how home care providers use subsidies and fees, the 2021-22 ACFR will see the introduction of the expanded home care segment income statement.
There are a number of changes here, and as Rebecca mentioned earlier, we’ll be very keen to get your feedback on this section through questions during this format or via email over the next few days.
So significant changes to the income statement include capturing direct care and subcontracted service income based on the type of care provided. For example, domestic services, nursing services, household maintenance.
Capturing direct care, labour costs and hours for both employee and agency staff by employee type. Again, examples might be a registered nurse or personal care staff.
Capturing labour costs and hours for care management and administration staff separately.
Capturing additional detail associated with direct care. This would include such things as expenditure on consumables, home modifications and transport services for clients.
Capturing additional details on administration costs. For example, insurance, rent and IT costs.
And capturing further detail on the level of unspent funds being held down to the package level (Level 1, 2, 3 or 4 of a Home Care Package, not individual packages), rather than just at the total level as it is today.
That’s the formal part of what I wanted to say, I'm now happy to take some questions if that's appropriate.
Just a reminder to people: to ask a question, use the Q and A function on the bottom right side of your screen and select send to all presenters.
Our moderator team will then begin feeding these through to us to answer.
The first question may be for me.
Q: In terms of how client contributions and income tested fees will be used in client budgets, will they be used first and balance claimed from this subsidy?
A: That seems like a question more related to the Improved Payment Arrangements measure, which I can add a link to the documentation on that about how to draw down funds in the order of spending funds. Find this information here.
Next question for you, Mark.
Q: Can I confirm if you are a small provider (35 clients) and don't segment, for example, cash flow, you can just report it all at the provider level, wrapped up with the aged care results.
A: I'm not sure I completely understand the question, so come back to me if I don't answer it correctly. So, at the moment, if you're a small home care provider, you would be providing the home care income statement. That will continue, albeit at a more detailed level, going forward. In addition, you will be required to complete the approved provider reporting and the segment report, depending on the nature of the operations issue. If you only provide home care, then a lot of the information between the approved provider income statement, and the home care income statement would be the same. That's no different to the case today with residential aged care providers where a small residential care provider might only do residential care so that some of those numbers are the same amongst the residential segment reporting that's part of the ACFR and the approved provider reporting. That will be no different going forward for homecare providers again with the segment note. If you're not doing anything else other than home care, there'll be an option available through the collection portal for you to select which segments apply. So, if you're not doing residential care and retirement living and other community care like NDIS, then you won’t select those. That will just prefill with zeros and you’ll just put the information into the home care section of that parent note.
I hope that answers your question.
If you want more information about that, please let us know again in the Q and A or send an email to hcoperations [at] health.gov.au and we can provide some more detail.
Q: Are the figures to be reported pre or post audit?
A: Ideally post audit.
Q: Are there changes to audit requirements for segment reporting?
A: There are no changes to the requirement for the Aged Care Financial Report not to be audited. So, today home care providers don't have the home care income statement audited as part of the ACFR. The parent level segment note and the approved provider sections of the ACFR that are being expanded to include home care are not required to be audited. That’s it as per the previous question. Ideally, they should reflect what's in the organizations audited accounts once they have been completed and ideally, that four month window from 1st of July through to 31st of October when the ACFR is due, should provide enough time for organisations to have their own internal accounts completed and audited and for that information to be added into the ACFR.
Q: Could you please clarify for approved providers, who may have a parent organisation as a local government, which reports apply
A: If an approved provider is a local government entity or a state government entity, you will continue to only complete the home care segment income statement. The rest of the additional reporting won't apply. And that is consistent with the approach that we apply for residential care as well, where they are required to complete residential segment information, but no approved provider information or parent segment note.
Q: Will there be flexibility in case the data hasn't been available through the full financial year, considering that we are asking for more detailed information now, while we're two months into the year?
I can take that one if you like, Mark.
A: While the full annual report is required, we will give some flexibility for providers if the data isn't available for the first quarter of the 21-22 financial year. Obviously, we'd like providers to do their best to get that in, but if it's not there, it's not there. But, we would expect the data to be comprehensive for the 2nd through 4th quarter of the 21-22 financial year report.
Q: Are subcontracted brokered services the same as paying suppliers? For example, one-off tree lopping?
We may also need to get some advice from my home care package colleagues here.
A: I would say that they would be classed as sub contracted services in that you have engaged a third party to provide services on behalf of a client, whether that is a regular contract that you might have with Jim’s Mowing that runs to look after clients all year round, or is a one-off where you might engage a third party to provide a single service, I'm happy to take any further clarification from my home care colleagues on that one.
Yes, I think that sounds like how our program rules are framed at the moment. And we can provide some more clarification on that in the Q and A’s that we release after the webinar, if required.
Q: If we do not put care recipient expenses throughout business accounts, do we only report on our direct costs of the business?
A: I may need that one to be emailed through because I'd like to have a chat to the provider about exactly what that that means. I’m a bit puzzled about the comment about not putting expenses through the business account. If whoever asked that can send that via email with some contact details, I'm happy to take that one offline.
I suspect that's about privately provided services that are paid for and delivered outside the package, but we can take that one on notice.
From Carrie [audience member],
Q: For large organisations where corporate costs are allocated across multiple programs outside of aged care, is it possible to report this information at the provider level or at a segmented level?
A: For larger organizations for both the consolidated parent segment report and the home care income statement. Ideally, we would like corporate costs to the extent possible to be allocated to the appropriate segment. We're happy to look at some advice and some Q and A’s at how providers can do that if that is something that's going to be problematic as providers work through how they're going to complete this as part of their 21-22 ACFR.
Q: What if information about labour paid hours is not available? For example, labour paid hours for agency staff might not be captured in the payroll system for many providers.
A: In that instance, what we're suggesting and we've introduced a similar level of reporting for residential aged care providers this year, as part of an amended residential income statement for the 2021 ACFR. The advice that we're providing to those providers for their report this year will be the same for home care for next year. It would be a case of going back to the agency provider and asking them to split that up. I suspect that given residential aged care providers are being asked to provide that information already, that a lot of the agency services probably are beginning to field enquiries from their residential clients. It may be they’re already beginning to think about that when approached by yourself. In a residential space, that's particularly important as it is part of the inputs into the new AN-ACC funding model for residential care, so there's a big push to get that information. So you may find agency providers are already fielding queries from residential, and looking at ways to be able to provide that data to enable that reporting to be met.
Q: If a provider also operates in the CHSP, are they expected to include that data in the segment report?
A: Yes, that would go in under the community column.
Q: Segmented cash flow and balance sheet may not be possible with our accounting software. What should we do?
A: We're not asking for the cash flow statement to be segmented. The cash flow statement will be completed at the approved provider level. I'm not anticipating that should pose a problem. I definitely haven't had any feedback from residential providers who have been doing that for a number of years, that completing the cash flow statement at the approved provider level is problematic as mentioned during the presentation. We do most definitely acknowledge when coming to the parent segment report that segmenting balance sheet items is not something that providers normally do. The advice to home care providers is the same that we provide to residential care providers for this year and that is to make the best endeavours at seeking to allocate that across the various segments. We appreciate that for a lot of those items, it will be an allocation, because it won’t be reflective of the way you do run your business, but we do ask you to think about the best way that you can allocate those various items to be able to complete the segment information as required.
This is similar to one of the earlier questions, with a bit more detail.
Q: We only provide home care, but we provide this under various programs, including the Home Care Packages, The Commonwealth Home Support Program, Veterans’ Home Care, National Disability Insurance Scheme, and private clients. Would all details be provided under the home care segment?
A: Looking at the home care segment income statement, the rules around that will continue to be as they have been, as it would capture information from both package home care clients that are funded through the Commonwealth program, and private home care clients who, in essence are receiving the same services as they would be under a home care package, but are paying for that privately. That's been the rules around completing the home care segment income statement since it was incorporated in the ACFR several years ago. That's not changing.
Coming across into the approved provider reporting, the income statement, balance sheet and cash flow: Yes, that will pick up all of those within those because they're all part of the operations of the approved provider. We acknowledge that approved providers will do a whole variety of different things outside of aged care.
Then lastly coming to the consolidated segment note again, it would just be a case of segmenting those out. The home care column would be the same definition as for the home care income statement, which is packaged home care and private clients. The rest of those services that were listed such as CHSP, NDIS, other community type programs that are funded through separate government programs: they would be segmented into the community column.
Q: We have 20 transition care beds that are contracted to South Australian Health. South Australian Health receives Medicare funding directly and then we invoice South Australian Health. Should this income and related expense be included in the Aged Care Financial Report?
A: Yes. The approved provider sections of the Aged Care Financial Report should capture all revenue expenses, assets, liabilities for the approved provider, irrespective of how they've come about. Whether they're related to aged care, whether it's services you provided, whether it's a subcontract arrangement from somebody else; approved provider level financial statements that will capture all revenue and expenses for the approved provider. That would be the same with the parent level segment report. Again, it's capturing all information either at the parent level, or the approved provider level, depending on the corporate structure. It will pick up all revenue and expenses that might also include retirement villages, residential aged care, whatever else it might be that is part of the organisation’s operations.
We have another question from Jane about the subcontractor brokering costs.
This is not about the services provided under those arrangement, but I think it's about the administrative fee that goes over the top.
Q: Should that subcontract / brokerage costs include ‘that’ fee when the client chooses to receive services from different providers, which many providers share across them (10 to 20% of the additional cost)?
Again, I might need to get some further guidance on this from Rebecca.
A: I would have thought that that would be the case, although I caveat that comment a little bit as it depends on whether those fees would be more appropriately captured under care management or package management service fees. I may need to defer to my home care colleagues around brokage services fees and whether they should be classed along with the cost of the service, or whether they go into one of the fee categories.
We might take that one on notice to have a further look at that and answer that through our published Q and As.
Q: We've had someone ask about when the quarterly reporting commences and thanks Carla for providing that answer.
A: It's the 31st of October 2022.
And as I mentioned, we'll provide some more information about the quarterly reports in the coming weeks and months.
Q: If we only provide care packages program, will we only be required to complete the Home Care Packages, income and expenditure tab of the spreadsheets?
A: No. You will be required to complete all sections of the amended home care ACFR. That is consistent with our approach under residential care as well. If you are a small provider, only providing residential care, you are still required to complete residential segment information, the approved provider information, and the parent segment note. As mentioned earlier with the parent segment report, you can select which columns apply so that the system will prefill zeros into all the columns that are not appropriate. That makes it a little bit easier, rather than having to fill in a whole lot of zeros.
I think you mentioned this before, but there will be a guide explanation to go along with these reports with, Mark?
Yes, there will.
Because we're implementing some of this stuff in residential care for this year, that will also help us to get some feedback around where some of the issues may be for providers, which will help us to provide some more targeted information for home care providers, for next year.
Q: What about self-managed customers that select their own support staff and we reimburse them? How are these to be treated?
A: I’m not sure I fully understand that question. If it is a cost that is going out to reimburse the client, it should be being captured as part of the expenses. Happy to have a further conversation with that person. If they want to shoot an email through, to help you better understand the inflows and outflows there to know how best to categorise that.
Thanks Mark. I'm not sure about that myself. I think you're right, it's still an expense that needs to be reflected as such, but we can have a look at that in a bit more detail offline.
Another similar question about the scope of the report.
Q: Is this asking about all funding to the organisation or just aged care? Your answer before seemed like it was all funding to aged care. Sorry, to the organisation.
A: Yes. The approved provider level reporting is all operations of the entity that is registered with the Department as the approved provider. If that is just home care, if that's all the approved provider does, the information will just be home care. As we know from the Aged Care Financing Authority’s report, I think approximately about a quarter of home care providers also provide residential care. With that cohort providers, the approved provider reporting will cover both residential care and home care. If you're a home care provider that’s also in the NDIS space, then the approved provider reporting will cover the home care operations plus the NDIS operations. And again, likewise for the parent level reporting, whether that's completed at the parent level, or the approved provider level, depending on your corporate structure, it will be all revenue and expenses, and assets and liabilities associated with everything that the organisation does.
Thanks Mark. You're doing a fabulous job. We've got 3 more minutes of Q and A, for you and then we'll move on to the Program Assurance segment.
Another question from Jane.
Q: Does the COVID-19 expenses include all non-workforce costs? For example, backfill with agency staff.
A: Yes it should.
Q: Can you please provide a distinction between community and other sections for the segment report?
A: Yes, we can. We have that information available. As mentioned, the residential providers will be completing that segment report for the first time this year. So we do have that and we can make that available.
Q: Can you explain why some providers have been excluded from the additional burden of this level of reporting, for example, the public sector?
A: The reason that government providers have largely been excluded from this additional level of reporting is that there's an expectation that should an approved provider get into financial trouble and be either a local government, or a state government, the state government would ensure that there's no loss and that there's an orderly exit and all those sort of things occurring. If things get to that point, there's that reliance on the state government to stand behind their organisations. For non-state government entities, that assurance is not there. There is a need for the Department for both residential care and now for home care, as the home care program continues to expand rapidly, to be able to get some comfort around the viability of organisations that are providing care.
There's a program that's been underway in residential care for the last year or so, working with providers that might be struggling to seek to ensure that they don't fail and leave residents or clients in the lurch. There is a need now to expand that out to also include home care providers. In order for the Department to be able to make those assessments and to have that, comfort that home care providers will continue to be there and provide services for their clients, we need to get this additional level of reporting.
Thanks, Mark. Thanks so much for all your answers today. You've done a fantastic job. There's a number of questions still coming through. People can still feel free to add those until the end of the session and we'll get to them and answer them in our published questions and answers. Also don't forget that you've got the email inbox to send additional questions through to.
And just a reminder that it is hcoperations [at] health.gov.au
Thanks so much. We'll move on to the next segment now today, which is around program assurance.
So we have Chamandeep Chehl, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Program Assurance Branch and she's going to give us a bit of an overview.
Hi, everyone. This is Chamandeep Chehl. I look after the Program Assurance Branch.
For those of you who were expecting Bianca today, I apologise. She been just quite unwell and so I'm stepping in at the last minute and hopefully can do as good a job as she would have done.
We're a newly created Branch, and that was a very deliberate decision to set us up separately from the Home Care Program area and Branch that Rebecca looks after, because a sound principle of program assurance is to have that independence.
So, to assure you, the providers in particular, we will be looking at the program settings as well and therefore it makes sense for us to be quite separate from the Home Care Program area.
So we are set up as a Branch, predominantly looking at the Home Care Packages Program assurance. And we are set up in a different division, so I belong in the Quality and Assurance Division that is headed up by Amy Laffan. Our main “client”, is the Home Care Branch where Rebecca sits.
So, in terms of the genesis of why we've been created and why this focus on program assurance of Home Care Packages, there was an announcement on the 1st of March initially that the Government was going to invest $18.4 million in predominantly program assurance of the Home Care Packages Program, but also fraud management enhancement of the Home Care Packages Program.
The reason for that is, because, as you're aware, the Government's been investing significant amounts in Home Care Packages with the biggest announcement in Budget 2021-22 of 80,000 additional packages.
So it's natural that the Government is very concerned and invested in ensuring the integrity of this investment on behalf of the taxpayers.
The focus really through this program assurance is to allow for the oversight by the Department towards the delivery and administration of the Home Care Packages Program and to assure that the funding is being spent in an effective and efficient manner.
That's kind of the driver behind this, and naturally ultimately what we want, recognising that there are genuine business costs that providers have to show quality and safe services.
Absolutely understand all of that, but ultimately, as much of those dollars going towards direct service delivery is the interest the Government has here and obviously minimising any fraud or misuse of funds.
And then that announcement on the 1st of March was reiterated in the Budget. So there is the Prime Minister’s media release as well as a Budget fact sheet.
I think the links to those might be already available on our program assurance web page, which is on the Health website, but if not, we can certainly post those as well.
So there were a few elements to the announcement. The biggest part of the funding is reserved for this annual ongoing program of in-house program assurance reviews of Home Care Packages.
It is going to be risk-based with an immediate and ongoing focus on high indirect costs, admin charges and overheads.
In addition, we can look at any other particular risk that is relevant within the broad category of looking at assuring the administration and delivery of the program from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective.
Complementing the ongoing in-house reviews will be, and this was quite a deliberate decision, to set up an online community of practice for home care providers.
The aim being to share best practice, to support you to understand program requirements better, share any systemic learnings from the reviews and overall, basically use it as a platform for ongoing conversation in a structured manner between the Department and yourselves. Our aim certainly is to try and have that moderated independently so that we can add that extra layer of objectivity to that engagement.
We also have enhanced pricing transparency for the packages and this is again complementary to the assurance work, because the aim is to empower consumers so that they understand better what it is they're being charged, allowing them to negotiate better with the current provider, or if they need to vote with their feet and choose a different provider.
So, the important thing is that we're not adding to the burden to providers in terms of the pricing transparency. It's going to use the information that is already available, but just making it much more user friendly and allowing consumers at a geographical level to compare better across all of the providers who might be available to them.
And then, lastly, in addition to enhancing our current fraud management effort, we really need to want to look at end to end home care package related fraud management, because there are many moving parts and we really want to try and establish the best in class approach to managing fraud and misuse of funds.
Then if required, we have an opportunity to kind of assess what are the gaps currently and if so, obviously see if we need to go back to government in a well evidenced informed manner on this.
So I think of most interest to you might be what will the Home Care Packages Program assurance reviews function kind of look like and how will it impact you as providers?
So, the first, most important piece of work that we are currently doing with our consultant, which is PriceWaterhouseCoopers, is developing a program assurance framework and for those who might be familiar with this kind of work it's a foundational piece of document that is quite important because it kind of articulates how we're going to do what we do. What are the principles? What will be the scope of work, what methodology we might use?
We know for ourselves as well as externally it's quite an important document. So we're investing quite a bit of time in preparing that and that is something that we will engage with providers on and the final document will be published online.
We also deliberately really wanted to set up an in-house program assurance team.
While we have a consultant supporting us to learn the ropes and set ourselves up, this is a function that is going to be conducted within my Branch on an ongoing basis.
So the expertise will all be inhouse and that will give that business continuity to providers as well, which is really important to us. And the other important thing here is that we are going to have accredited assurance review officers.
So, we are going to make sure that our officers know formally under the required standard, how to do assurance, and then conduct the actual review activity also against that standard. So that is very important to us.
In terms of how many providers, up to 500 providers a year now. We're at the start of our journey. So, in the first year with the 500 we're going to try but we'll see. But yearly it's 500 providers.
And generally, because the question, has already been asked, generally, we will try not to hit the same provider twice.
However, I always caveat that, because it depends on what we identify through the first time we review a provider and if needed, we will return, or it might be that another significant risk also emerges in relation to the same provider.
And for those of you who are thinking to ask, these are generally desktop-based reviews. So, site visits won't be required in our view, and obviously we'll be working very closely with the Commission as the regulator, because we are not in that business, and we want to minimise the impact on providers wherever possible.
I mentioned the next one, so I won't go into that, but they will be risk-based, rest assured.
You might be aware that there is now an amended Age Care Act in place that allows us the underpinning legislation to be able to compel engagement with us on assurance reviews. I hope we don't have to compel providers, but legally we have that available to us.
And there are penalties applicable, which again we'll try and avoid, and we really want to work in partnership with providers, but legally it is available to us to impose penalties for refusal to participate when invited.
I've mentioned that PriceWaterhouseCoopers are a critical business partner for us, in terms of setting ourselves up well, to hit the ground running.
For those who might be wondering, because my slide doesn't tell you, we will be starting review activity from October this year.
So, what will assurance reviews cover?
We will tell you in writing, if you've been selected for a review and the terms of reference for the review. As I've already told you the first immediate focus will be on admin charges and indirect costs. We’ll still write to you, obviously, if you get picked up, but that's the broad scope or purpose of those first, few reviews.
But whenever we are running a review, you will get advance notice, we will definitely be adhering to all the good practice principles because we take great pride in doing this the right way and the fair way. So, natural justice, no surprises, giving you a look at what our findings are before we go publishing, etc will all be part and parcel of it.
You may be asked to attend an interview, probably Webex or something similar. Even when things are normal but on the odd occasion it may be a physically face to face interview.
We may certainly ask for more information because initially we want to strike a balance between not overwhelming you with too much information that we require, but depending on what risk or issues we identify, we may come back for more within that same review.
We will have two kinds of reports that might get issued. One would be specific findings for the provider we've reviewed. Quite detailed and kind of engaging with you one-on-one to explain our findings and give you the right of response, etc.
And then there'll be the public facing published version of the consolidated findings from a review.
We will be making observations, we will be naming providers, but it's not the frank and fearless warts and all kind of approach that we might take in engaging with you and giving you your particular report. So we are mindful that they are public facing and we will strike that balance so that it won't have private information or confidential information.
We may also be able to think about publishing non-compliance so if providers have refused to participate in reviews, we are able to publish that. This is all kind of, I guess, legally available to us.
I've covered what we will cover with individual providers and then I've already mentioned before that the community of practice is another means of engaging on these, post every review. We think a review might take up to three months to do, but we will really know once we go through the first few.
I mentioned that we are really looking to ensure value for money of the program.
We really will be looking to you to give us evidence that supports the level of indirect charges and costs that you have and why you have them.
It is definitely not about price setting or any arbitrary calls the Department is going to make on what is justified or not. What we're really looking for is to you to give us the evidence base that assures us that whatever you are charging is justified, right? So, that's kind of the aim here. We do have a requirement both under our Act (the Aged Care Act) as well as the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act to ensure that there's no misuse of funds or fraud. Those sorts of findings we have, if any, clearly will be addressed as we are required to. But outside of that, if there is anything we find where we need to pass that information on to the regulator - this is the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission - we will do that. But it is up to the Commission, as part of its usual considerations, to determine what action if any needs it needs to take.
Outside of all of that it would be a spectrum of engagement from an educational purpose to think about whether we need to, as I mentioned, publishing any non-compliance on our website to publishing of the findings of the review in a public facing report, as well as other options we might consider.
It depends on really what we identify as we go through the first few reviews, that will help us understand and determine what more that we might not currently have available to us we require in terms of, I guess, actions that we can take. It could be just writing to particular providers and advising that there is a need for them to kind of focus on particular aspects of efficiency of program, delivery, etc.
So there's a suite of things that might be valuable to us, but the general approach is education and continuous improvement of providers, and, as I mentioned before also looking at our own Departmental controls and advising internally if things need to be tightened or clarified, etc.
We'll be working very closely with Rebecca’s Branch, including through the community of practice, to try and address any areas of confusion that we identify and are satisfied through our findings that indeed it is confusing for providers. So there's need to kind of really focus on clarifying those requirements for yourselves.
I've talked about the community of practice. We'll set up a platform by December this year and pretty much all providers should be able to participate in terms of the availability of that platform.
We are very happy to get feedback. If not today then certainly, I'll put up an email address we have to get any feedback from you on all of what I've said, but also the community of practice and how you would like to use it, because it will only be meaningful if it's useful to you.
Sorry, I'm whipping through because I want to allow time for questions.
There's a mailbox we've set up which is HCPassurancereviews [at] health.gov.au that is managed by Bianca’s team and any questions you have about the reviews, etc, please send them through. We will try and respond to those, but also it will help us formulate our own thinking, as we go through this program assurance journey with all of you.
In addition, I just wanted to highlight because there's some confusion, I think still about how to report potential fraud or misuse of funds. So we have a fraud email, which is the corporate health fraud section, which is fraudsection [at] health.gov.au . You can email that section. There is also a fraud hotline, which is also the Departmental fraud hotline, and it's only available on weekdays, Australia and Eastern Standard time.
But what I wanted to highlight is now we do have actually a mailbox for my Branch. And that's the other bit I'll just quickly touch on as a function for us and that is if there are any home care package related referrals in terms of fraud, then it's our email address agedcare.fraudreferral [at] health.gov.au.
So most of my Branch is focused on Home Care Package program assurance. There is a section, which is led by Michelle Watkins, and that area is responsible for home care fraud. So we now directly within the Group have responsibility of fraud management, which used to be with the corporate area. Hence, I'm highlighting that we now have a new mailbox. So, if anyone has any questions about it, or have any particular intelligence that you want to share with us, please email that particular mailbox. We can think about doing a separate session on fraud management at some time in the future if it's required.
So, Rebecca, that brings me to the end of my presentation. I understand I can look at questions myself and manage those but, let me see.
I think we're going to run out of time Chamandeep.
We've got one minute to the conclusion of the session, but I have been having a look at some of the questions coming through and I just wanted to check with you.
We'll work closely with you to get answers to those questions and publish them along with some other questions and answers from this webinar. If that's okay with you.
Of course. Absolutely.
Yes, great. So thank you very much for that.
And thanks to Mark Richards as well and I just want to thank everyone for joining us today and for your really valuable questions coming through, which will be helpful for other providers that weren't able to join us today.
We have captured all the questions we will endeavour to add to them as quickly as possible and we will actually publish a question and answer document for all providers.
We've also recorded this session and we'll make that available on the Home Care Packages , web page on the health website and don't forget if you have any further questions, you can send them through to operations.
So, the email address is hcoperations [at] health.gov.au and that's for the ACFR questions
There was email addresses that was just put up then for the program assurance. But if questions come through to homecare operations, we'll manage to get them through and get them answered as well.
So, thanks everyone for joining us today and we hope that you found some of the information being shared valuable.
Have a good day.