Good afternoon everyone and welcome to this webinar on the Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification process. My name’s Robert Day. I’m the Assistant Secretary for Dementia, Diversity and Design in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care. Thank you very much for your interest and participation in today’s webinar.
Before we begin I’d like to acknowledge that wherever we are around Australia we are sitting and meeting on traditional lands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. Today I’m joining you from Ngunnawal country in the ACT.
Just a note that today the session is going to be recorded and will be made available on the Department’s website. We’ll provide a link to all of you who are attending as soon as the video becomes available.
With me here today are Isolde Kauffman, Director of the Diversity and Inclusion Team in my branch who’s responsible for managing the Specialisation Verification process. We also have Jill Waddell the Project Director, and Katie Cooper the Project Manager from Australian Healthcare Associates who have been commissioned to assess applications under the initiative. And I’m also very pleased to have Sarah our Auslan interpreter with us today as well.
Today’s webinar will provide an opportunity for you to hear directly from those rolling out the My Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification initiative, about how this is being done. We’ll cover the purpose of the initiative, the methodology behind the Specialisation Verification Framework, how aged care providers claiming to deliver specialised care can apply and how the initiative will support older Australians, their loved ones and their representatives to find the most suitable care for their needs. And this will include the latest changes to the My Aged Care website.
If you have any questions during this presentation please feel free to submit these using the text box available and we will try to address these in the Q&A session following this presentation.
I’d also like you to know that some of the screenshots we’re going to show of the My Aged Care and Service and Support Portal may appear small on your screen. Using Webex you’ll have the capacity to zoom in by clicking on the plus icon located at the top of the presentation screen. You can also zoom back out when you’re ready using the minus icon.
Before we begin I’m going to take you back to why the My Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification was developed.
The process goes back to the final report of the Royal Commission into aged care quality and safety. Most relevantly to today’s topic the Royal Commission found that the aged care system needed to do more to respond appropriately to the needs of people with diverse characteristics and life experiences. The Royal Commission also found that more should be done to improve the accuracy of information entered by aged care providers in the My Aged Care Find a Provider tool including independent verifications of claims to specialise in the care of people with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.
And this recommendation covered all of the special needs groups as they’re currently defined in the Aged Care Act.
The Royal Commission also highlighted that the voices of people needing care must be heard to ensure that the system is relevant and appropriate for those it is intended to support. And arising out of these findings came recommendation 30 Part A3 of the Royal Commission. And in response to that the Government committed to implementing the Specialisation Verification Framework and independent assessment process.
From the 27th of June this year applications have been open for independent verification of providers’ claims to specialise in the care of one or more special needs groups. We have recently made some enhancements to this process which sees the applications integrated into the My Aged Care website and will see verified provider specialisations become visible from this month.
As we go through the presentation today Isolde and Jill will step you through the application and assessment process in detail.
But a reminder that the key objective of this initiative is to ensure that reliable information is available to older Australians with diverse backgrounds and life experiences as well as to their loved ones and their carers when they are making decisions about aged care. This will both help people find the care that is right for them and appropriately recognise providers who are going above and beyond to specialise in the needs of specific groups.
Importantly for aged care providers Specialisation Verification will also provide a level playing field by setting a benchmark for what specialisation looks like where this has previously been a subjective judgment. I know from talking to providers over the last couple of years that sometimes providers felt they had to tick all the boxes on My Aged Care to meet our expectations from Government. I also know that some providers have embraced the marketing advantage that a specialisation tick provides. So verification provides a level playing field for everyone and lets us all know what we’re talking about when we talk about specialisation.
Specialisation Verification is one of a range of measures aimed at increasing transparency in aged care, improving access to suitable aged care services for older Australians with diverse backgrounds and encouraging providers to ensure their services are appropriate and safe. I’m now going to hand over to Isolde to address the changes in the way providers can apply for verification and updates that have been made to the front facing My Aged Care website including how verified claims are differentiated from unverified claims. Thanks Isolde.
So under this process aged care providers may choose to offer specialised services for people with diverse experiences, backgrounds and characteristics who identify with one or more of the groups defined as having special needs in the Aged Care Act. To claim specialisation through My Aged Care providers must deliver care that is sensitive to the needs of these individuals and goes beyond the standard obligations of the Aged Care Quality Standards. As you all know aged care providers are bound by the Aged Care Quality Standards which set out the minimum requirements all providers must meet including that care recipients are treated with dignity and respect and can maintain their identity. Delivering specialised aged care services is an optional additional step.
If a provider claims to deliver specialised care to people with diverse needs they need to be going above and beyond the standards to provide care that is sensitive to these people’s needs. Examples of that may be a percentage of staff have completed specific training in providing this care, policies and procedures are in place to support and promote delivery, the provider displays evidence of their public commitment and care recipients agree that services are specialised and appropriate.
Applying to have specialisation claims verified under the My Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification initiative is voluntary but if a provider wants to claim to specialise in providing care to one or more of the special needs groups in the Aged Care Act as of 27th of June this year they now need to satisfy the criteria set out in the Specialisation Verification Framework as assessed by Australian Healthcare Associates, the independent assessor.
As Rob indicated earlier the intent of the initiative is to bring more rigour to the way in which providers claim specialisation on the My Aged Care website. Encouraging providers to verify their specialisations will better support older Australians to identify the right services for them on the My Aged Care website. The process also means that providers have clear guidance on requirements to make a specialisation claim. Providers must be able to demonstrate that they meet the requirements set out in the framework to have verification applications approved.
You can see on this slide that the viewer, an older person and/or their loved one, can look in the Find a Provider tab and then under the heading ‘Pick your options and search’. And under that it says ‘Specialisations’.
So as you can see some providers specialise in certain health conditions or helping different communities. The evidence required depends on which of the diverse groups identified as having special needs under the Aged Care Act that the provider is claiming to specialise in. It’s important to note that other specialisations such as catering to people of particular faiths or with particular health concerns are not part of this process. There is currently no verification process for these other specialisations.
The framework presents a two tiered approach to evidence requirements for specialisation which can be found by searching ‘Specialisation Verification’ on the Department’s website. Tier one criteria carry more weight. So this example on the slide is for LGBTI where you can see the tier one criteria is the provider is Rainbow Tick accredited. Tier two criteria, there are more of those, and providers need to satisfy any four of the tier two requirements. If a specialisation doesn’t have four tier two requirements then all of the tier two requirements need to be satisfied and that applies for example for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, financially and socially disadvantaged and rural and remote.
So in this example the provider can either choose that they are Rainbow Tick accredited, the tier one criteria, or four of the tier two criteria.
The criteria were developed following consultation led by AHA in late 2020 and early 2021 with representatives of people from diverse communities and aged care providers to test the appropriateness of the proposed criteria and evidence requirements and the usability of the framework. Broadly speaking providers were generally accepting of the framework and considered that the process of reading and responding to the criteria was usable. The Department and AHA held further consultations in May and June of this year mainly seeking input on how best to obtain feedback from older people themselves on the care they are receiving to feed into this process.
Well thought out comments were made in relation to the near final framework at the time and we’ve made some adjustments based on this feedback. Not all suggestions could be accommodated as there are a variety of views to consider in-depth. However we’re intending to review the framework during implementation including undertaking further consultations to inform improvements in the future.
Rolling out this initiative is an important step in bringing more rigour to the claims providers can make on the My Aged Care website. As Rob touched on some changes were made to the My Aged Care website in June of this year which meant that providers were no longer able to self nominate their specialisation without having first been verified by AHA. We’ve since made further enhancements to integrate the application process into the My Aged Care Service and Support Portal and differentiate verified specialisation claims to those claims otherwise unverified in terms of how the specialisations appear on the My Aged Care provider summary pages.
As of last week providers can apply to have their specialisation claims verified by completing an online application via the My Aged Care Service and Support Portal rather than emailing their application to AHA.
This slide outlines the application process. So the first step is a provider submits an application through the My Aged Care Service and Support Portal. AHA as the assessor reviews the application and follows up with the provider where required. Next aged care recipient feedback is received by AHA through email or phone if applicable, so if the provider chose to use this tier two element. Then My Aged Care notifies the provider that their application has been finalised. The provider selects the verified specialisation via the Service and Support Portal for publishing just as you have been previously, and verified specialisation claims are published on the provider’s My Aged Care profile.
In terms of the changes there will be a tick icon displayed next to verified specialisations on the provider’s My Aged Care profile. Pre-existing specialisations already appearing on My Aged Care will remain published on a provider’s profile but providers who have not had their specialisation claims verified will have those claims removed from their My Aged Care profile in early 2023, so after a transition period.
So this slide is showing you how specialisations will appear. This example is a provider called Aurrum Kincumber. Now when a person views the specialisations listed on the provider’s summary page on the My Aged Care website it will be clear to them if the provider’s claims to specialise have been verified or not.
In this example Aurrum Kincumber is a provider of verified services for CALD and LGBTI. So that’s in the red box on the left hand side of your screen and you’ll see a tick for CALD and a tick for LGBTI there. And at the very bottom of that screen the green tick is a bit bigger explaining to you what the ticks mean. Verified specialisations will be published and will display the tick icon next to the specialisation. If you’ve had your specialisation claim verified prior to the 3rd of October it may not be visible on My Aged Care just yet.
These verified claims have been gradually published on My Aged Care throughout October.
Providers who have not had their claims verified will have them removed from their My Aged Care profile in early 2023 as I just mentioned.
Providers can apply for verification of specialisation at any time. Each verified claim to specialise will remain published on the My Aged Care website for three years. After this time providers will need to reapply for verification and will be notified their specialisation claim is due to expire three months from the expiry date. If the verified specialisation does expire it will no longer be visible on the provider’s My Aged Care profile. If a service ceases to provide this specialised care during the three year period in which the verification is valid providers will be required to remove the specialisation claim through the Service and Support Portal. I’ll show you the steps through the Portal for the application process.
A new user interface has been built under the outlet administration function within the Service and Support Portal to enable providers to manage their applications for each outlet.
So this is the beginning of it. This user interface enables providers to lodge new specialisation applications, view the list of their applications and view the history of their application all through this portal. In terms of lodging a new specialisation application for each specialisation providers will need to indicate the criteria they are applying against through a dropdown menu and upload copies of the required evidence documents. The provider can apply to have more than one specialisation claim verified per application.
In terms of viewing the list of their applications the new interface also lets providers view those currently in progress or those that have been finalised for the outlet in question. The My Aged Care system ensures that providers can only apply for verification of specialisations that are not currently verified for their outlet or for which the current verification is within three months of its expiry date.
Through this interface providers can also view their history of verification applications at outlet level. Providers will be able to follow the status of their application submitted to AHA for assessment through auto-generated emails via the Service and Support Portal. I’ll take you through that a little later. As these notifications will be sent to you via the Service and Support Portal it’s important that you ensure the email contact details for your outlet are correct otherwise you won’t receive these notifications.
So on this slide you’ll see on the right hand side of the page the contact details. So those are the ones with the email address that need to be updated so that you receive these notifications.
So I’ll take you through starting the application process and what that looks like. So you select the outlet you wish to submit a verification of specialisation application for from the outlet administration page via the Service and Support Portal. In this mock up here you can see the application pertains to Airlie North Googong New South Wales. So down on the bottom left it describes Airlie North Googong New South Wales.
Next we want to proceed to the manage specialisation verification page which is accessed by selecting the ‘Manage Verification’ option.
The purpose of this page is to allow providers to lodge applications, view and maintain their outlet’s verified specialisation claims. Outlet administrators will be presented with an overview of the outlet’s verified specialisations and will also be able to view all applications for that outlet. To lodge a new application click on the ‘Lodge a new application’ option from this page. So you can see that on the screen.
This page has a lot of text which I don’t expect you to read but it just gives you a snapshot providing you with what it looks like, the information about how to lodge a verification application. It includes links to resources such as the framework and detailed evidence requirements and these will help guide you around the questions you need to consider in your application for the criteria against which you are applying. These are very important reference documents. Once you have read and understood this introductory text click ‘Next’ at the bottom of the page to progress with your application. So just the little bottom tab.
Then you select the specialisation or specialisations you wish to have verified and click ‘Next’. So in this example we’ve only selected one but you can select multiple specialisations. This one is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialisation that’s been selected. So you upload the evidence that meets the specialisation criteria in which you’re applying under by clicking on the ‘Provide evidence’ option for each specialisation.
You can see here the criteria under the specialisation in which you’re applying is listed in the dropdown menu. So all of the criteria there on the right hand side of your screen under Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specialisation is all listed there for you to select.
Each of the criterion reflects those listed in the framework.
Once you’ve selected the criterion you would like to submit evidence for you can see the evidence you need to provide detailed here. This one refers to a letter from the CEO which is tier one evidence.
For further information on the evidence requirements see the Specialisation Verification Framework or the detailed evidence requirements on the Department’s website. We strongly recommend you do this before starting your application and familiarise yourselves with these documents as they’ll guide you on what evidence you should have ready to include in your application.
This slide is showing that you can provide more information with your application to the assessor if you would like to here. So this says additional information and you can click on it and type in anything you like there. Then the right hand side of this screen is where you submit that to go on to the next page.
To submit your application for assessment you must agree with the declaration that as a provider you will maintain best efforts to adhere to the requirements set out in the framework before you click ‘Submit’ at the bottom of the screen, the purple button. So that’s what that slide was showing us.
Now here you can see in this example that the green banner on the top indicates that the application has been successfully submitted. So it tells you that straight away. You’ll also receive an auto-generated email from My Aged Care that your application has been assigned to an assessor for assessment. A sample of that is on the right hand side of your screen. That’s what it will look like.
If the assessor needs more information from you to continue with the assessment of your application they’ll notify you via an auto-generated email from My Aged Care. You’ll need to edit your application via the same process in which you applied to have your specialisation claims verified and resubmit to the assessor.
From the outlet administration page again select the outlet you wish to edit and click on the ‘Manage verification’ option.
You can now see that your application is in progress under the ‘Manage Specialisation Verification’ page.
To edit click on the relevant application which now has its unique ID number as shown there in the centre of the screen on the left hand side. As you can see there’s a blue box at the top of your application page that wasn’t visible when you submitted your initial application asking you to make changes to your application in line with the assessor feedback within ten business days. To upload the new document you will need to follow the same process you did previously by clicking on the ‘Provide evidence’ option.
These screens show you what it looks like when you’re submitting evidence. So select ‘Specialisation criteria’ then choose the criterion or criteria here.
And click on ‘Submit’.
In terms of additional information you can insert some text in this box to let the assessor know on this slide. You can put some text in this box towards the bottom of the screen here to let the assessor know that you have uploaded a new document and its title name in line with the assessor’s feedback so that they can resume assessment of your application.
Then you click on the ‘Submit’ option to accept the declaration as you previously did.
Then again here you see an immediate notification in the Portal that you have successfully resubmitted your application to the assessor.
You’ll also be notified via an auto-generated email from My Aged Care that your application has resumed assessment. The second notification on screen is an email that a provider will receive once their application has been finalised which asks the provider to view the outcome in the Service and Support Portal.
So once a specialisation has been verified the provider will then need to select the specialisation or specialisations through the Service and Support Portal in the same way done in the past. To do this click on the ‘Outlet administration’ tile in the Service and Support Portal.
Select the outlet you would like to display the verified specialisations. So here we’ve got Airlie North Googong New South Wales. Then click on the ‘View service items’ option.
You edit the service that caters to the specialisation or specialisations that you have had verified by clicking on the pencil icon next to the service. So there’s a few of them there as an example. Then select the specialisation you wish to have published on your public My Aged Care provider profile. You will only be able to indicate providing diverse needs specialisation against services for which the parent outlet has been successfully verified.
So that was a little run through of what the screens will look like. I will now hand over to Jill Waddell from AHA to discuss the verification assessment process and evidence requirements.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA)’]
Thank you Isolde. So as Isolde and Rob have mentioned AHA has been engaged by the Department to assess specialisation applications made by aged care providers. And we’ve been performing these assessments since June through an offline process using email and since the 3rd of October we’ve been using the My Aged Care Service and Support Portal, so using the process that Isolde has just described.
We assess each specialisation application against the Specialisation Verification Framework checking that the evidence uploaded by providers meets the requirements for each criterion selected. It is therefore really important that providers check the evidence requirements detailed in the framework carefully and make sure they have addressed all of these requirements before submitting their application otherwise we’ll need to come back to providers and request additional information.
We expect that assessments will take up to 20 business days from the time that we receive all of the required evidence and information. And providers will be notified via email when we’ve completed our assessment of the applications and you can then check the outcome via the Service and Support Portal.
The next slide shows the two main documents to refer to when preparing an application. The provider guidance manual steps you through the application and assessment process and it includes information on how to collect feedback from aged care recipients. So as Isolde mentioned this is a tier two criterion that you may choose to select for many of the specialisations. The provider guidance manual also explains how to lodge an appeal and answers a number of frequently asked questions. It also includes contact details for our Helpdesk.
The second document you can see on this slide is the detailed evidence requirements for providers. This document expands on the evidence that providers need to demonstrate for each of the criteria. So it’s important that you refer to this document when preparing your application to ensure that it includes all of the necessary information.
So finally I’d like to emphasise that this is a new process and we’re here to help. Our contact details are on the final slide of this presentation. And for now I’ll hand back to Rob. Thank you.
Fabulous. Thanks so much Jill. Thank you Isolde for taking us – both of you – through that information. Before we jump into some questions just like to highlight the key takeaways from today’s webinar particularly from the point of view of an aged care provider. Number one. Applications are open right now for providers to apply to have their specialisation claims verified by Australian Healthcare Associates. Before you jump on to the My Aged Care Provider Portal and start your application have a look on the Department of Health website and at the key resources that are available to you to understand the evidence and the process in greater detail. So that’s the Specialisation Verification Framework, the provider manual and the detailed evidence guidelines that Jill’s just talked to us about.
Third key message is that from this month verified specialisation claims will be visually different than unverified claims. The bright green tick will start to take effect. And finally unverified claims will be removed from My Aged Care from early next year. We’ve deliberately allowed about a nine month transition period from applications opening in June ‘til that cut off date. We know that things are really busy at the moment for aged care providers but now is the right time to start thinking about your application to make sure you’re in before that early 2023 deadline.
We’re now going to jump in to the Q&A session and we’ll try and address as many questions as we can that you’ve sent through.
So thanks Rob. I’ll read out the questions and suggest who might like to answer them. So the first one.
Q: Can I apply for more than one specialisation in the same application?
Jill would you like to take that one?
Thanks Isolde. Yes. The answer to that is that providers can apply for multiple specialisations through a single application.
Thank you Jill. Another question.
Q: My aged care service provides specialised services to people from a particular special needs group. Do we have to apply to have this verified?
So the answer to that is that if you would like for your specialisation to appear on the My Aged Care system then you do need to apply through this process and that is a requirement as of the 27th of June this year. And it will go through the process that we outlined earlier. You do have a bit of time as we just mentioned. So your current specialisation won’t be removed until early next year to give everyone a bit of time to get used to the system. But if wanting to claim a specialisation through My Aged Care you now do need to apply the framework and go through this process.
A third question that we’ve got is:
Q: How long does the application process take?
Jill would you like to take that one?
Thanks Isolde. So we anticipate that it will take approximately 20 days for us to assess applications and provide an outcome. That’s from the time that we receive all of the necessary information from providers. So as we’ve discussed if applications are incomplete we’ll come back and request further information so the 20 days starts from the point that we receive all of the information.
Thanks Jill. There’s a few questions about the process now. So Jill or maybe Katie this question is:
Q: Could you please provide any insights as to why a claim may be rejected?
Sure. I’m happy to answer that one Isolde.
So the reason a claim may be not accepted is because it doesn’t meet the evidence requirements outlined in the detailed evidence guidance document. So we really encourage providers to carefully read that document and make sure that they answer all the questions and upload all the required evidence when submitting their application.
And then we have some questions about the process that has been used until the 3rd of October, so between the 27th of June and the 3rd of October and moving forward. One question maybe for you as well Katie.
Q: If we have started the process via the Excel form and have been emailed forms can we continue outside of the Service and Support Portal still for our application?
Yes. Certainly. We are still processing applications submitted using the Excel form and we expect to continue processing them throughout October. So yes if you submitted through the initial interim process until the start of October we’ll certainly continue assessing that Excel form and then get back to you via email as we have been.
There’s one which is a little incomplete but I think it’s asking:
Q: Do we automatically qualify for these specialisations due to our funding arrangements? For example we have assistance with care and housing funding so qualify for homeless.
I can take that one. So you do still need to submit an application for the specialisation for homelessness. But as you go through that process some of the requirements you won’t need to upload evidence. So we have a process whereby we’ll check within the Department whether you receive assistance for care and housing as one of your evidence requirements under tier two and we can check that internally. But you still do need to submit an application.
Next one about – a bit of an appeals question. I’ll give this one to you as well Katie.
Q: If the provider disagrees can they ask for a reassessment?
Yes certainly. There is an appeals process. The steps that you need to take are outlined in the Aged Care Provider Guidance Manual. So if your claim is rejected I recommend you refer to the manual and then follow the steps. It involves submitting extra evidence or perhaps a reason why you think your application should be reassessed. But please refer to the manual about the appeals process.
Thank you Katie. Next one.
Q: If our organisation already has published material for example pamphlets, website material that states we provide specialised care needs for CALD clients can we continue to use this even if we haven’t applied for specialisation verification?
Yeah thanks Isolde. So this verification process applies only to the information that is published on the Find a Provider tool for My Aged Care.
So I think the answer is going to depend on your situation as an organisation. It may be that you choose not to go through the application process but you genuinely provide services that are specific to a particular cultural group in which case that’s fine. There’s a range of scenarios I can imagine why that would happen. But I would remind everyone that there’s a general obligation to provide accurate information to your clients under the Aged Care Quality Standards. So yes I can foresee a whole range of situations where that’s an entirely legitimate scenario that you’re not on My Aged Care but your booklets and your pamphlets highlight the specialised services or the particular services that you offer. There’s nothing to stop you doing that. But you would know as well as I do the importance of making sure that information is accurate and up to date.
Thank you Rob. Another question along the lines of communicating the framework.
Q: Is it possible for me to have a copy of the provider manual? I do advocacy for Dementia Australia and am also living with cancer and Lewy Body with vascular and Parkinsonism. I think the clients need to have information about the verification as this would be a new portal.
Certainly the provider manual is on the Department’s website and anyone can access it. Katie did you have anything to add to that?
No. I think that is a complete response. Thanks Isolde.
Yeah. Great. Thank you. I’ll go up to one about training. So the question is:
Q: With regard to training and the requirements for 90% of staff having received training how do you assess the quality of the training and do you check with training providers?
Jill or Katie would you like to take that one?
Thanks Isolde. Regarding the second part of the question no we are not currently checking the quality of the training which is being undertaken by aged care staff however that’s something definitely on our radar as we go along this process. We intend to refine the framework and the evidence requirements as we go along. But currently no we’re not engaging with aged care training providers.
Yeah. That is a question that we gave some thought to in formulating the training aspect. So thank you for that question.
I think that is all the questions that I have coming through. So thank you for your questions.
Thanks very much everyone. Thank you for your questions. I hope that we’ve answered them successfully and usefully. Is there one more that’s just popped in?
One did pop in. Yes.
Q: Can I have a contact number so a hard copy can be posted to me?
Yes. Certainly. We have an email address which we can share. So we can get back to you on that.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Thank you’, ‘For more information about My Aged Care Provider Specialisation Verification please refer to the Department’s website and search for Specialisation Verification, or contact:’, ‘The Department of Health and Aged Care: firstname.lastname@example.org’, ‘Australian Healthcare Associates: email@example.com’, ‘or 1300 186 711’]
There we are. Yep. So firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy to send you a hard copy.
All right. So we’ll call our webinar to a close at that point. Thank you all very much for your attendance. Thank you to Isolde and Jill and Katie for taking us through in detail. Thank you to Dane and Sarah our two Auslan interpreters.
As Jill mentioned at the end of her presentation this is a new process and there is help available to you both through the Department and through Australian Healthcare Associates. And you can see both our email addresses and the phone number for AHA’s Helpdesk there on that final slide. So please reach out if you need some help. Happy to answer the questions as best we can. Thank you for your time and interest today and best of luck with your applications.