Quarterly Financial Report – Publication of finance information onto My Aged Care

This Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) webinar provided information about Quarter 3 reporting including tips for accurate reporting. The publication of provider finances and operations information on My Aged Care was also discussed.

Health sector
Webinar date:
Webinar Link:

Webinar recording


[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Quarterly Financial Reporting & Publication of financial information on My Aged Care’]

[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]

Eleanor Browne:

Thank you all for attending today’s webinar. I’m Eleanor Browne, Assistant Secretary, Market Intelligence Branch in the Department of Health and Aged Care, and I will be chairing this event.

I’ll begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the lands on which we are virtually meeting today. Our speakers, Samantha Ebdon, Pranab Acharya and Mitch Docking are based in Canberra on the lands of the Ngunnawal and the Ngambri people. I acknowledge and pay respects to their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. I extend that acknowledgment and respect to other families with a connection to this area and any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are here with us today.

Just a bit of housekeeping before we get into today’s session. There will be a Q&A session at the end of the webinar. You can lodge questions in the Slido box on the right hand side of your screen and you’re welcome to put your questions into Slido as we go along. We’ll attempt to respond to as many questions as possible at the end of the webinar. We’ll also update our FAQ document following the webinar and publish a full Q&A from the session. Questions submitted during the registration process have also been considered for the Q&A session and you might see those popping into Slido during the presentations today. We’ll make sure we’ve answered those before opening up to additional questions. Just to note there is no option for attendees to turn on their video or microphone.

Webinar slides are now available on our website and the session will be recorded and published on our website in the coming days.

Before I hand over to today’s speakers I’d like to give some context and a brief overview of today’s session. We are presenting this webinar following the closure of the Quarter 2 Quarterly Financial Reporting period and ahead of providers submitting their Quarter 3 data. We have now collected the QFR through the GPMS platform for the first time and today’s webinar provides an opportunity to reflect on the new data collection application. We also wanted to take the opportunity to talk about our quality assurance processes and address some frequently asked questions with the aim of making it easier for providers to submit accurate information and improving the quality of the data we collect.

We’ve dedicated a section of today’s session to talking about how to accurately submit wages data as well as why we’re collecting this data and how we use it. This session will be most useful for staff who are responsible for the completion or review of financial reporting for aged care providers. It is intended to supplement the information we have available in our FAQ documents and the support available through the free helpdesk service offered to support the collection process. 

To take us through the session today first Sam will give an overview of the new QFR collection application, noting the QFR is now being collected through the Government Provider Management System, the GPMS platform. Pranab will then talk us through some of the common data quality issues identified in Quarter 2 including some additional quality assurance work being undertaken to improve the quality of collected information particularly for food and nutrition and residential labour costs and hours. Mitch will then talk us through reporting of wage rates, including what we collect, why we collect it and how this information is used, as well as information on how to ensure wages data is reported accurately. 

Pranab will then talk us through what providers can expect for Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 reporting periods. Finally I’ll give a brief overview of how the information submitted in the QFR is used including in the new service level publication on My Aged Care also known as Dollars Going to Care, and through our sector level reporting in the quarterly financial snapshot and the financial report on the Australian aged care sector. Thanks again for joining us today and I’ll hand over to Sam to get us into it.

Samantha Ebdon:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Quarterly Financial Report (QFR) on Government Provider Management System (GPMS)’, ‘Samantha Ebdon’, ‘A/g Director, Financial Reporting IT Project’, ‘Market Intelligence Branch’]

Thanks Eleanor. Good afternoon. I am Samantha Ebdon and I’m the Acting Director of the Financial Reporting IT Project that delivered the new QFR data collection application on the Department’s Government Provider Management System (GPMS) platform that was launched for Quarter 2 reporting in January 2024.

As you’re aware the primary aim of the QFR data collection transition into GPMS was to bring the collection storage and reporting of QFR data in-house and onto the Department’s internal IT systems.

I would like to take this opportunity to provide you with an overview of the QFR cycle and the processes undertaken through the Quarter 2 reporting period. This was the first time we’ve collected the QFR through the GPMS platform and providers were able to access their Quarter 2 QFRs from the 9th of January 2024. 87% of providers submitted their Quarter 2 QFR by the due date on the 14th of February 2024 and in the vast majority of cases the experience with GPMS was a positive one. Throughout the submission period a small number of providers experienced IT issues or some system access issues and have been actively supported through the process by Forms Administration who provide assistance with the completion of the form and My Aged Care Contact Centre who provide assistance with login issues for GPMS.

Quarter 2 resubmissions closed on the 31st of March 2024 and providers are now able to access the portal to commence Quarter 3 reporting. Submissions are now due for Quarter 3 on the 5th of May. We expect that lodgment of submissions will be smoother in Quarter 3 than Quarter 2 given that users have now had a greater familiarity with the new application. However as always if you do need assistance with how to complete your QFR you’re welcome to contact the Forms Administration Helpdesk either by phone or via email. And if you experience any technical issues accessing the GPMS portal the My Aged Care Contact Centre are able to assist you.

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve made a number of small enhancements to the QFR form for Quarter 3 to improve the user experience. Most importantly we have now included the QFR data definitions within the portal. These are accessed at each data point by selecting the information icon. This means you no longer need to have a secondary document open to check definitions. We have also amended the services and planning regions to now show alphabetically. This means that for residential providers with multiple services and home care providers operating in multiple planning regions these will be shown alphabetically in the data tables within the forms and the Excel bulk upload template. 

These improvements have been made in response to feedback received during the provider trial that was completed in 2023 that we were not able to deliver in time for the go live in January. We do hope that these enhancements improve the user experience.

There will be future opportunities to participate in a short survey where we’ll be seeking your feedback as first time users of the new QFR data collection application. This survey will be emailed to all QFR primary contacts. We are also seeking a small number of volunteers to participate in longer, more in-depth interviews where you can share more information about your experience. You’re welcome to indicate your interest in participating in these sessions either via the survey that we send out or by emailing us. The email address is on the screen.

Thanks for your time today and I’m now going to hand over to Pranab.

Pranab Acharya:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘QFR Quarter 2 – Data Quality’, ‘Pranab Acharya’, ‘A/g Director, Financial Reporting and Analysis’, ‘Market Intelligence Branch’]

Good afternoon. My name is Pranab Acharya. I’m the Acting Director of the Financial Reporting and Analysis section. I would like to start by thanking the sector for working with the Department across the past six QFRs in improving the quality of data submitted in the QFR.

Today I’m going to talk through some of the key data quality issues we saw in Quarter 2 and some tips to help improve reporting for Quarter 3 through a process of self-review. In particular I’m going to touch on some issues we have seen in key areas of the form including the food and nutrition section, the Quarterly Financial Statements section and the residential labour costs and hours section.

Starting with the food and nutrition section, although most providers submitted reasonable values there were quite a few providers who reported an average of less than $6 per resident per day on food and cooking ingredients, or very large values. This may be due to inaccurate reporting of internal and contract catering values or due to inaccurate reporting of occupied bed days in the residential care labour costs and hours section. We recommend that providers review the average daily spend on internal and contract catering in the QFR which is auto calculated on the bottom of the food and nutrition form before submission. The total of these two values is published on My Aged Care in your service’s overview page as the daily spend on food.

Next there are some issues relating to the Quarterly Financial Statements section. We have noticed some providers have incorrectly segmented their income, expenses, assets and liabilities even though it was accurately completed in the ACFR. For example home care assets and liabilities have been incorrectly allocated to the other segment when it should have been put in the home care column. There have also been excessive increases or decreases in income or expenses in the QFR when you compare it to the last submitted ACFR. This may be due to business growth in some cases or lack of adjustment journals if they are not done quarterly. Although we do not expect the ACFR to fully line up with the QFR as it is management accounts we do expect the QFR to reflect the allocation methodology followed in the ACFR.

For the residential care labour costs and hours section since aged care providers started reporting the QFR from July 2022 there has been a significant improvement in data quality for direct care labour costs and hours. With the QA process being in place for six quarters now the number of times we’ve had to reach out to providers for rework is steadily declining. From Quarter 1 23-24 we added in a per resident, per day read only page to help providers review their data before submission. Per resident per day page is auto populated by dividing the values on the direct care labour costs section by occupied bed days. It adds the total employee costs and the agency costs together. Providers should use this section to review the values for reasonableness as these figures will be published on My Aged Care.

Going into a bit more detail of things that providers should focus on in this section. On labour costs, please ensure that the full scope of all costs are included in your labour expenditure. For example super, bonuses, leave expenses, termination pay, etcetera should be all included in labour costs. However these on costs should not be included in the hourly wage rates. If adjustments to your submissions are required download the latest template from the GPMS to make changes. Ensure that the invoices for agency staff are incurred and recognised as expenditure in the same time periods and please review data to ensure that there aren’t transcription errors between occupation or services.

Next comes labour hours. Please ensure that labour hours reflect the full quarter rather than payroll cycles. Exclude labour hours for services which are not funded through AN-ACC, for example health care plans. Ensure that training and leave are captured in non-worked hours rather than labour hours. Where staff work across different roles, for example lifestyle and personal care, ensure that both expenditure and hours are distributed appropriately.

With all of this data being published for the first time on My Aged Care in late February providers need to be comfortable that their data is accurate as it will be accessed by the general public. Following the Quarter 1 preview period where providers have the opportunity to preview information prior to publication a small number of providers reached out to us asking for Quarter 1 data to be resubmitted once they saw their data in the GPMS provider preview. Because this was the first quarter where this information would be published we allowed resubmissions in very limited circumstances. 

For Quarter 2 data we will take a stricter approach to resubmissions, therefore we have taken a more proactive approach and have contacted providers where we believe that the data was outside of reasonable thresholds. On top of the usual process for contacting providers for direct care labour costs and hours issues we reached out to many providers on hourly wage rates and daily food costs where again these fields fell out of expected ranges. For those providers that had the opportunity to check and resubmit data we acknowledge that this additional step in the process may have been unexpected, and being contacted by two different areas may have been administratively burdensome. But with clear guidelines and advice and having been through one round of QAs we expect the volume of contact to decrease in future quarters. If you have any doubt that the data that you are submitting may not pass the Department’s QA checks you are encouraged to reach out to the free helpdesk service that is available.

In terms of frequently asked questions I wanted to touch on a question we have been asked in relation to the Director’s declaration. Where a QFR has been reissued and needs to be resubmitted we were asked if it was possible for the resubmission to occur without requiring Director signoff. The requirement for a Director signoff is because it is important for the board to be aware of the data issues in the QFR as they are ultimately responsible for the information that gets submitted and published on My Aged Care. Going through the QA process should help detect these errors before they sign off future QFRs. It is a legal requirement for board members to sign the QFR so we are unable to provide any exemption to this requirement for resubmissions. In saying that if your data does not change and you have a valid explanation on why the data is out of expected range then you do not need to get the Director’s declaration resigned. You can use the same declaration from your last submission.

I will now pass on to my colleague Mitch Docking to talk about hourly wage rates. Thank you.

Mitch Docking:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Aged Care Wages’, ‘Mitch Docking’, ‘Director, Aged Care Wages Implementation’, ‘Aged Care Workforce Branch’]

Thanks Pranab. And good afternoon. My name is Mitch Docking. I am the Director of the Aged Care Wages Implementation team.

I will review the questions in the Quarterly Financial Report on aged care wages, outline the issues we are seeing with this data and walk through our expectations for reporting against these data fields.

So by way of background and a recap on our previous webinar last year the QFR collects the hourly rates of pay for registered nurses, enrolled nurses, personal care workers and other direct care for home care. And since the commencement of the QFR we’ve collected the average rates of pay by occupation. In Quarter 4 of 22-23 we made further changes to the QFR to include additional wages data fields including information on the lowest hourly rates of pay, information on the highest hourly rates of pay, and we also tightened up the definition for how to calculate the average hourly rate of pay.

So our intention behind the design of these data fields was to make them as simple and easily reported as possible. And from Quarter 4 22-23 we also required – sorry. That was a little mistake. From Quarter 1 23-24 we also required all residential aged care and home care providers to attest that Government funding for wages has been passed on to the full benefit of workers. This attestation relates to the $11.3 billion investment announced by Government in the 23-24 Budget last year.

So the key motivation for the wages data field is to understand the impact of the Fair Work Commission decision in the Aged Care Work Value case. As I’m sure you are all aware, in February of 2023 the Fair Work Commission made a decision in the case to increase minimum award wages by 15% for many aged care workers, including registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers.

Wages information is being collected for these specific occupations through the QFR. And in aggregate terms we’re seeing a positive shift in wages in response to the Fair Work Commission decision and supporting Government funding, particularly when we split that out by ward reliant residential aged care providers where wages have grown at around that 15% mark and closer to 21% for the lowest wage personal care workers.

And again Government delivered a large investment to fund this decision that commenced from 1 July 2023.

Beyond the work value case we’re interested in monitoring the change in wages over time and how these compare to minimum award rates both at the provider and sector level. So further to the comparison to minimum award rates we’ll investigate instances where providers are reporting below the minimums in the award and we’ll work with providers to understand the rationale for reporting below the national minimums. We will also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman in specific instances where we’re getting misappropriate data. And of course we’re using this data to publish information on My Aged Care and in the Quarterly Financial Snapshot which I will touch on next.

As I just mentioned the wages data is now published in two areas. On the My Aged Care website at the provider level and in the Quarterly Financial Snapshot at the sector level. I’ve included examples of this reporting on the slide.

So starting with My Aged Care people will be able to view the relevant provider level wages information when researching options for residential aged care and home care. By occupation this is displayed as a range using the lowest and the highest wages data.

The provider average will also be published and comparable to a sector benchmark on the average wage.

And on the right of the slide we have an example of the Quarterly Financial Snapshot. So the latest QFS includes a comparison table of the lowest, average and highest hourly rates by occupation and provider type. It also shows the change in these rates in comparison with the previous quarter.

So it is critical that providers report this information correctly. While there is benefit for each provider to have accurate data published it is also important that this information to inform the sector level analysis such as benchmarking calculations, growth in hourly rates and sector level medians.

So I noted earlier that we are seeing a positive shift in the wages data however this shift is not universally consistent with the 15% work value decision and is particularly problematic for home care where much lower growth is observed in the data. So of course we would be concerned if there were providers that are not passing on the Government’s funding in full particularly where they have also attested to passing on this funding in the QFR. However our current assessment of the data collection is there are substantial data quality issues affecting this analysis which includes but is not limited to low end areas where we’re seeing reporting below the minimum award rates and the national awards, mid to high end areas – so we’re seeing what we think are reporting of on costs and casual rates and penalty rates – or agency fees and brokerage, or service fees charged for services, for example home care schedule of fees.

And also other areas which we believe are data entry errors. So we haven’t seen too many of these but some examples show workers getting $4 to $5 an hour or as high as $400 and $500 an hour at the high end. So we’re seeking to improve the data quality. So in Quarter 2 we identified outlier data and worked with providers to draw attention to these and clarified our expectations and definitions around these data fields. And from Quarter 3 onwards we’d like to improve the overall wages data collection. Strategies to do this include webinars such as today, improved data definitions and supporting materials such as frequently asked questions and ongoing work with individual providers with potentially incorrect data.

So we’re refining the definitions and improving the supporting material to assist providers to submit accurate wages data. I will make an important distinction at the outset. The hourly rates data that I’m talking about today differs to the direct labour cost data reported elsewhere in the QFR that Pranab talked about earlier. The direct labour costs include the costs of wages and all the on costs. But for the wages data fields we are only interested in the actual rates of pay that are paid directly to the worker.

And as I mentioned above our intention for these data fields was for the reporting to be simple and easy as possible. So I’ll briefly touch on each of these definitions one by one.

So for the lowest, we want the lowest gross standard or base hourly rate for your directly employed workers who are full time or part time as per the award agreement or contract. This standard or base rate should not include on costs, penalty rates, casual rates, agency fees, brokerage or any pay as you go tax deductions.

The average should be calculated as the average gross standard/base hourly rate for your directly employed workers. Again this base rate should not include the additional on costs, agency fees, brokerage or tax deductions. The average should be a simple calculation based on rates only without applying any weightings based on hours worked. For example if you have three RNs at hourly rates of $50 an hour, $50 an hour and $65 an hour, the average of $55 an hour comes from adding $50 plus $50 plus $65 divided by three.

As I’ve just mentioned we’ve asked providers not to apply any weightings to this calculation. We’ve applied this methodology as some providers with less sophisticated systems may face challenges with calculating a weighted average. As such for consistency purposes in the data we’ll ask that all providers calculate the average hourly rates according to the published data definitions consistent to the approach I’ve just outlined.

And for the highest we would like to see the highest gross standard/base hourly rate for a full time or part time adult worker directly employed by the approved provider as per the employee award agreement or contract. Again this amount should not include on costs, penalty rates, casual rates, agency fees, brokerage, and should not be reduced by tax deductions. Any agency or brokerage staff engaged by the approved provider should not be included in the highest hourly rate or anywhere else in the hourly rates data. Should your organisation only engage agency staff for any given occupation your QFR data should be reported as zero.

And to wrap up or summarise here are the key principles to keep in mind while supporting the wages data.

So things to do. Report the full time or part time adult hourly rate. This should be the gross standard or base hourly rate of pay paid directly to the worker. And for the average it should be a simple average as per the example I outlined above.

Things not to do. Please do not report on costs, penalty rates or casual rates. Please do not report agency staff or fees or any brokerage arrangements that you may have. Do not report the schedule of fees for any services. And please do not report any trainee or apprenticeship worker rates. These should be the full time adult rate.

I will now pass back to Pranab to talk through upcoming changes in the QFR. Thank you.

Pranab Acharya:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘QFR Quarter 3 & 4 – Reporting changes’, ‘Pranab Acharya’, ‘A/g Director, Financial Reporting and Analysis’, ‘Market Intelligence Branch’]

Hello again. Looking forward now to Q3 and Q4 reporting period.

There will be no additional reporting requirements in the QFR collection form for Quarter 3. The only change is that the definition for hourly wage rates have been strengthened using the insights that Mitch has just provided. The definitions and the non-uploadable template for Q3 is available on the Department website now.

From Quarter 4 you can expect to see additional data collection related to outbreak management costs. An aged care outbreak management supplement was introduced on 1 February 2024 replacing the existing COVID-19 grant application process. Replacing the grant with a supplement means that providers no longer need to do the administrative work required to lodge a grant application. It also means that funding is available straight away through a supplement and providers do not have to wait for a grant application to be assessed and finalised. The supplement is a contribution to the costs of planning for and managing outbreaks including COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. The funds can be used for the purchase of rapid antigen tests, PPE and associated workforce requirements.

You can access further information on the supplement by scanning this QR code. The additional information reported in the QFR will be used to inform Government consideration of future outbreak management funding support. So please start to update your systems in expectation of having to report on these new data to ensure the information you provide is as accurate as possible.

Going through the actual changes, in the residential viability form there will be a new question which asks has your organisation had outbreaks in this reporting period? You can either select a yes or a no. If you answered yes you need to select the types of outbreaks that occurred, with a dropdown selection allowing multiple choices such as COVID-19, influenza, viral gastro, RSV or other. If you answered no, no further information is required. For profit and not for profit providers need to complete this form. MPS, NATSIFAC and Government providers do not need to complete this section. It will not be visible in the form.

A new subsection within the residential care labour costs and hours form will be added asking for a breakdown of outbreak management expenses. You will need to input values for infection prevention and control lead, residential support, preventative measures, employee and agency labour costs, other outbreak costs. An explanation is required if other outbreak management costs is greater than 30% of the total. And this is at the service level with prompting text to list a description and amount. All residential care providers need to complete this section. These questions are not required from NATSIFAC, MPS and home care providers. It will not be visible in the QFR form.

An important thing to note is please do not reduce the direct care labour cost for RNs, ENs, PCWs etcetera by the amounts disclosed in this section. It is a freestanding dataset and you do not have to make it add to a total expense unlike the ACFR.

Moving onto the next slide. Draft definitions for Quarter 4 will be provided after this webinar. It has not been uploaded yet to the Department website to avoid confusion for Quarter 3. We will be communicating with the sector ahead of Quarter 4 to ensure familiarity with the new requirements. As always additional guidance is provided through the FAQs. The QFR FAQs have recently been updated on the Department’s website. The section on residential labour costs and hours is now a separate freestanding document and provides further detail on common issues and errors that I highlighted earlier along with a large raft of other queries that providers have asked in the past six quarters. 

Please remember that Forms Administration operate a free helpdesk to assist with the submission of the form. In addition the free ACFR and QFR help email address can be contacted if you have any technical questions that relate to completing the residential and home care labour costs and hours section of the QFR. Please remember that the ACFR and QFR help email address is also for home care related queries. We have noticed that most questions that come through relate to the residential segment only and home care providers are not asking for guidance. If you need assistance please get in touch.

I will now pass back to Eleanor Browne to give an overview of how we use the information submitted in the QFR. Thank you.

Eleanor Browne:

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Sector Level Reporting’, ‘Dollars going to Care’, ‘Quarterly Financial Snapshot (QFS)’, ‘Financial Report on the Australian Aged Care Sector (FRAACS)’, ‘Eleanor Browne’, ‘Assistant Secretary’, ‘Market Intelligence Branch’]

Thanks Pranab. Before we wrap up and open for additional questions – and I can see the questions coming through in Slido as we present so thank you to those who’ve already submitted – I’m going to provide a brief overview of how the Department uses QFR data and an outline of our public financial reports.

The data collected through the QFR is used for a number of purposes, including financial oversight to enable more timely analysis of the sector’s financial performance and viability. For consumer choice and transparency, for example to inform star ratings. To inform policy development, to enable the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to monitor provider viability and to inform quality standards.

Since the launch of dollars going to care in late February 2024 some of the data collected through the QFR is now being used to publish information on provider finances on My Aged Care. This publication is designed to assist older people and their families to make informed decisions about their aged care and to supplement other information available on the Find a Provider tool on My Aged Care, such as star ratings. The provider finance information published on My Aged Care includes service level information for residential providers on how much money is spent on care and nursing, food and catering, accommodation and maintenance, cleaning and laundry and administration, along with a breakdown of income and profit or loss and surplus or deficit information.

Provider level information is also published on wages paid to RNs, ENs and personal care workers as Mitch has outlined. And financial information is also presented for home care providers where applicable.

Providers will have an opportunity to review Quarter 2 values during a preview period before the next quarterly update on My Aged Care. We expect this preview period will occur in May 2024 prior to updated publication in June and we’ll ensure the sector is informed ahead of the preview and publication periods. Please contact us at provideroperationsdata@health.gov.au if you have questions regarding the publication of your information. This email will be listed on the resources slide at the end of the presentation.

The data provided through the QFR also informs the development of the Department’s Quarterly Financial Snapshot or QFS. The QFS report provides an overview of key financial indicators including labour costs and time, wages to revenue, food and nutrition and care minutes at the sector level. It provides timely information for aged care service providers to compare and benchmark their performance with sector level results and supports the monitoring of key financial metrics for home care and residential care. The QFS also complements other existing publications such as aged care star ratings and the finance and operations information published on My Aged Care.

Our other key sector report is the annual Financial Report on the Australian Aged Care Sector. This report draws from provider information from the annual Aged Care Financial Report or ACFR. The FRAACS report provides a more detailed insight into the financial performance of the aged care sector covering the Commonwealth Home Support Program, home care and residential care. It identifies industry trends and reporting on how much is spent on care, nursing, food, maintenance, cleaning and administration and profits or loss at the sector level including relevant comparisons with previous years.

The FRAACS acts as an annual authoritative record of the aged care sector’s financial performance enabling providers to compare their own financial performance with sector-level results. We expect the next FRAACS report to be released mid-year.

This last slide lists email addresses for contacting our helpdesks and to provide feedback on the Quarterly Financial Snapshot and the Financial Report on the Australian Aged Care Sector or to ask questions regarding the publication of information.

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Resources’, ‘GPMS trouble shooting guide’, with image of QR code, ‘GPMS QFR User Guide’, with image of QR code, ‘Submitting your QFR – video’, with image of QR code, ‘GPMS QFR bulk upload with excel’, with image of QR code, ‘Forms Administration helpdesk’, ‘(accessing, using the portal or completing an online form) (02) 44030640’, ‘health@formadministration.com.au’, ‘QFR & ACFR helpdesk’, ‘(reporting your residential care and home care labour costs and hours data)’, ‘QFRACFRHelp@health.gov.au’, ‘FRAACS & QFS report feedback’, ‘agedcaremarket@health.gov.au’, ‘Publication of your information’, ‘ProviderOperationsData@health.gov.au’, ‘agedcareengagement.health.gov.au’, ‘09/04/24’]

[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Questions’]

That’s it for the prepared content for today’s session. We hope you found it useful and we’ll now open up for the Q&A session. For those who need to drop off I’ll also note that attendees will receive a survey automatically when the webinar session closes today and we’d love to hear your feedback. It takes around one minute to answer the three questions and we would appreciate it if you could take a moment to help us improve our webinars.

We’ll star the Q&A session firstly with some preregistered questions and questions that have popped up through the presentations today.

Just going to have a look to see what questions have popped up recently. And I can see that our moderators have been doing a fantastic job in the background answering a lot of the questions that have come through alongside the session today. I’d just like to acknowledge that the questions really demonstrate a huge amount of engagement with the process and the importance of reporting accurately. And we really appreciate that engagement and the time that you’ve dedicated today to come along and hear about how to report accurately and how to improve the reporting going forward.

I can see many of the questions have been responded by moderators and I’ll come back to some of those in a moment. I’m just having a scroll through for some that perhaps haven’t yet been answered.

I did see a question that has now been answered around:

Q:        What additional resources are available for seniors when looking at the new information published on My Aged Care?

And I think that’s a really excellent question because ultimately the purpose of publishing service level information on My Aged Care is to help older Australians and their families make informed decisions. We do have supporting information available on My Aged Care alongside the new additional information on the Find a Provider tool which is intended to help older Australians access and understand the information we have presented. The information invites older Australians and their families to talk to providers about the information presented on My Aged Care and to ask questions about the service and how it may compare to others.

As the moderators noted we also have worked with the sector closely including with the Older Persons Advocacy Network, OPAN, and have recently engaged with them on a webinar to help publicise the information. And the engagement we received was really excellent, showing that older people and their families are really using this information. As we’ve noted the webinar recording can be accessed on OPAN’s website. 

I can see a range of questions in the chat, some that go to IT processes or logging in, and I can see that those have been answered in many cases, and some as I said going to specific details of how to report accurately. And I think it’s really excellent to see that engagement and the responses from the moderators intended to assist with the completion of the forms.

There was a question in the chat around the scope to combine the ACFR and QFR. And I just wanted to note that the ACFR and QFR do have different purposes. In addition to what’s been added in the checks there just to note that the ACFR is a more comprehensive annual report and it does include audited information and a general purpose financial statement. The QFR is intended to be a shorter form to give an indication of the health of the sector as well as to flow through to key publications, our care minutes information, star ratings and dollars to care, as well as allowing for viability monitoring. So while the two can’t be combined we are looking at opportunities and we do continue to look at our reporting to identify opportunities to streamline the process and make it simpler for providers to report.

Looking through all the chat it looks as though the moderators have done such a fantastic job. I’m looking for some that haven’t yet been responded to.

There’s a great question there from Tracey Davenport around:

Q:        Where do we find the QFS?

And I can see there’s a link there for the first Quarterly Financial Snapshot that was released in February this year for the current financial year. We are intending to build greater awareness of our QFS publications by sending a link to the QFS out to providers following the completion of the quarterly period to assist with awareness and to help providers understand how the QFR is being used.

I’ve got a question here for Mitch.

Q:        Should nurse practitioner pay rates be included in the RN sections, ie in respect of lowest and highest rates etcetera?

Mitch Docking:

I think that’s a fairly short answer. Yes. We would consider that would be appropriate for the RN category. They’re typically higher paid so maybe it’s got more of an influence in the highest rate of pay rather than the lowest. But depending on the profile of that provider, yes that would be appropriate for the registered nurse category.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Mitch.

I’m just scrolling back up to see if any new questions have popped up here. Mitch I think this is another one for you from Sarah Bowbatch.

Q:        All our support workers are casual employees. If we do not report their wage rates it will look like we have no wage expenses.

Mitch Docking:

Hi Sarah. I’ll do my best to answer that. In terms of support workers there may be a slight difference of definition here. I would categorise a support worker as someone who’s maybe a kitchen hand or laundry worker, administrative type staff member. For the wage rates we’re not collecting the information on those workers. We are only collecting information on the direct care workers as sort of distinguished in the Fair Work Commission case. So that’s the registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers. So if it does relate to those other workers that we’re not collecting the specific data on please don’t include that. That should be picked up elsewhere, the labour cost data that Pranab has run through before somewhere. 

But just sort of picking up on the point around casual workers, I do acknowledge that they would be directly employed by the approved provider however those workers do attract a casual loading and that’s why we’re not asking for those workers to be reported in the wages data, the hourly rates wages data. Because going back to the intent of these data fields, part of that is so we can make really direct comparisons back against the national award rates. And I know not all approved providers in the sector are under the national awards but that’s part of our – we want that consistency in the data so we can make those confident comparisons back against the national awards. So trying to unpick any of the casual loadings just makes that job a little bit more difficult.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks very much Mitch. Pranab there’s a question here from Nivetita in terms of the validation rules from the QFR.

Q:        Could the QFR have some more validation rules set out so that it flags if the submission is out of range or is inconsistent with any prior submissions? Often we get questions after the submissions. It would be good to have stronger validations at the point of submission.

Pr5anab Acharya:

I guess there’s currently quite a few validations already built into the system. So we are looking to increase the amount of validations. There are a few validations that compare quarter by quarter results but we don’t want the system to block you from putting data for each and every data point. You get a validation error and you put in a number – and those validations generally – the way that it’s done by the Department is we compare like for like services. So you might not have the same validation for one service compared to another service. There are other things that we look at to determine whether a value should be [0:47:34] or not. So unfortunately building it into the system is not that simple. But having said that we’re open for suggestions. There’s a few email addresses at the end of the webinar slides that you’ll see. So if you have any suggestions on any particular validations or even if you have one particular one that you want to highlight please send it through and we’ll consider that in future IT builds.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Pranab. And I think that’s a really fantastic reminder as well just to go back to the prompt that Sam gave in her presentation on the QFR collection through the GPMS platform, that we will be sending out shortly to all providers an invitation to participate in a survey on the new QFR collection on GPMS. And that’s an opportunity as well to get in touch with us about your feedback so we can take that on board for future quarters.

A question here Pranab for you from John Woodard.

Q:        The collection of labour costs and hours for outbreak management, is that only additional hours to normal or does that include hours within a normal shift that are associated with an outbreak, and how would you expect that to be calculated?

Pranab I can’t hear you. I’m not sure if others on the call can.

Pranab Acharya:

Sorry. That’s me on mute. So if you’ve had an outbreak and if you’ve had to spend additional expenditure that you wouldn’t have spent had there not been an outbreak, that’s where you disclose that information. Being an accountant myself I know that that’s not an easy thing to do, to be able to tell exactly how many extra staff you hired or how many hours you engaged staff to look after that activity. But it is additional cost that you have incurred. So the idea with the outbreak management supplement is that it helps support these additional costs. It should help inform that I guess.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Pranab. And I also note that that outbreak management change to the QFR isn’t coming in until Quarter 4 and we certainly intend to engage with the sector more in the lead up to Quarter 4 to ensure that there’s greater familiarity with the reporting for that new collection.

Pranab Acharya:

So for the first quarter – I know that you have just been given this information now. So it’s already nine days into the quarter so your ledgers aren’t set up. So it’s not going to be the perfect bit of information for the first quarter. So this is very similar to what happened I guess when we started collecting information at the service level. So for the first quarter try your best. And from the second quarter onwards we would expect you to submit quality information.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Pranab. We’ve got a question that’s just come through around whether it’s possible for us to combine data collection with the StewartBrown survey data. The StewartBrown survey data is an optional service that StewartBrown operates to providers who wish to participate in their survey, whereas the Quarterly Financial Report and Aged Care Financial Report are legislative requirements that all aged care providers must complete and as part of the responsibilities of being an approved provider. And for that reason there isn’t the potential for us to combine those datasets. We also use our data for different purposes including some of the purposes I’ve outlined earlier in terms of financial viability monitoring, care minutes monitoring, to flow through to star ratings and the dollars going to care publication. And it’s appropriate that we collect that information directly from providers and are able to use that then to inform a range of processes that ultimately are really important for transparency and improving quality in the sector.

A question here from Colleen. And I think Pranab this one is for you in terms of outbreak management.

Q:        What is the definition of an outbreak for this purpose?

Pranab Acharya:

I guess an outbreak would be if in your facility – not using the word outbreak again, but if there’s been cases of gastro, RSV, COVID-19, and that is affecting your residents, it’s affecting your staff, and that is making you I guess incur additional costs – you may not have incurred additional costs as well. Because we will be asking you have you had an outbreak in the viability section. You might answer yes there, but you may already have processes and everything set up so that you don’t actually incur additional costs. So it might be minimal on what you put in the residential labour costs and hours section. What you do have to I guess keep in mind is when you report that amount don’t reduce the direct care labour costs. It’s just in the page as almost like a coincidence. You don’t need to make it add to total expenses. Hopefully that answers your question.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Pranab.

And just to note that as I mentioned earlier in the webinar today we will be sending around the full list of questions and answers from today’s webinar so that providers can refer back to the questions. A number of the questions here today are really detailed and will be helpful not only for those who’ve asked the question but potentially for others on the call. So you will have a record of these that you can refer back to alongside the FAQs that we do publish on our website and the support available through our Helpdesks.

Sam we’ve got a question here around some IT issues coming through the GPMS system.

Q:        There are a number of display issues when making a submission, like that all the text and our submission information appears well over to the right side of the screen. So it is difficult to see, ie two third white space and one third text. Also the validation errors appear before we have entered anything.

Samantha Ebdon:

Thanks for the question Charlene. Thanks El. So look I think this probably goes to the enhancements that I spoke to earlier in the presentation. So just post the due date, the 14th of February, we actually did a number of updates that addressed issues like these. So we were aware. Unfortunately we were not able to get them in for January 1 launch of the quarter and they just missed that due date. So I’m really pleased to be able to announce we’ve made a number of enhancements around the way that your forms will display for Quarter 3. 

Also we’re aware of those validation errors appearing within that form immediately as soon as you clicked on it. We knew that it was causing some confusion and we have fixed this as a priority. Again we just weren’t able to fit it in in time for 1 January. 

Further enhancements, as I think I saw the question come up, and it has been answered. So I spoke to it. A reminder the service and planning regions have now been alphabetised. That was as part of feedback from the provider trials that we conducted. So a reminder for those of you that need to complete your Quarter 3 submissions still if you use the bulk template updates you need to download a new one to make sure that you’ve got it in alphabetical order so you’re not submitting incorrect information to the wrong service.

Other enhancements, the data definitions. I’m really looking forward to hearing provider feedback within our surveys about being able to access that on the same screen. And it will slide out so you’ll still be able to see those definitions as you’re answering your questions as you go through. Thanks El.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Sam. Mitch we’ve got a question here from Branka.

Q:        For PCW hourly rates do you include domestic assistance employees as well given it is personal care workers including gardening and cleaning?

Mitch Docking:

Thanks El and thank you Branka for the question. I guess reflecting on my last response around support workers, there is that slight definitional difference between residential aged care and in home care. So for the personal care workers field we do have that expansion for gardening and cleaning as per the question. And I would expect to see domestic assistant employees in there as well. So please report it under the personal care worker data field.

Eleanor Browne:

Thanks Mitch. I note we’ve got only one minute to go of the webinar today. And hugely grateful for the engagement that we’ve had and the time people have set aside to come along and hear about our QFR and how to report better. I think we have addressed most of the questions that have come through the chat today but if we have missed them we’ll scoop them up and ensure that we respond in a QA doc that will come out following the webinar today along with the slides that are on the website and the video of the event that will be published shortly.

I’d like to thank you all for joining today and a reminder that when you do exit the webinar a survey will pop up on the screen. We would appreciate the time if you do have a minute or two you can spare to submit three short questions. Thank you so much for your time and looking forward to hearing your feedback. Thank you.

[End of Transcript]

Webinar slides

Question and Answers


  • Eleanor Browne, Assistant Secretary, Market Intelligence Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care (Chair)
  • Samantha Ebdon, Acting Director, Financial Reporting IT Project, Market Intelligence Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Pranab Acharya  Acting Director, Financial Reporting and Analysis, Market Intelligence Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care
  • Mitch Docking, Director, Aged Care Wages implementation, Aged Care Workforce Branch, Department of Health and Aged Care

About the webinar


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