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Aged Care Bulletin 8 October 2019

In this edition: provisionally allocated aged care places, safety of older Australians, the Federal Government's review into the NDIS and emergency plans for aged care services.

The latest insights from our award-winning Aged Care legal team:

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New Act to allow the movement of provisionally allocated aged care places 

The new Aged Care Amendment (Movement of Provisionally Allocated Places) Act 2019 commenced on 20 September 2019 (Act), which amends the Aged Care Act 1997 (Cth). The Act enables the Secretary of the Department of Health (or their delegates) to allow approved providers of residential aged care to relocate provisionally allocated residential aged care places from one region to another within a state or territory.

Historically, the Department of Health has considered applications for the movement of provisionally allocated places between regions. It has recently come to light that the Aged Care Act does not permit a variation of the region to which residential aged care places are provisionally allocated.

The Act seeks to remedy this issue by permitting the movement of provisionally allocated residential aged care places to allow approved providers to more efficiently operationalise a residential aged care place.

A provider can initiate these movements once it has been determined that it is in the best interests of aged care consumers, has demonstrated that it will not negatively impact the region that the provisionally allocated place is currently allocated to, and a clear demand for such places in the new region exists.

Access the Act here.

 

Safety of older Australians at centre of new regulatory agreement

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Commission) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) which encourages the sharing of data and information between the Commission and AHPRA. This emphasis on effective communication particularly relates to matters concerning safety in aged care.

The MoU has an indefinite term but will be reviewed by the parties every two years.

Under the MoU, the Commission will notify AHPRA if they are aware of concerns about the health, performance or conduct of a registered health practitioner. AHPRA has a corresponding duty to disclose to the Commission any information which raises concerns about the care and safety of someone receiving aged care, or broader concerns relating to an aged care provider.

AHPRA’s CEO Martin Fletcher described the MoU as a formalisation of the “shared commitment to work together based on a clear understanding of complementary roles”. It is hoped that older Australians in the aged care space will have strengthened protection due to the MoU.

You can read APHRA’s media release on the MoU here.

 

Consultation on the NDIS

The Federal Government has commenced a review into the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), with a particular focus on streamlining the application and approval processes. In addition, the Government also intends to implement a new NDIS Participant Service Guarantee.

The NDIS Participant Service Guarantee is intended to improve participant experiences within the NDIS. It will set standards and time frames for key steps in the NDIS application and approval process to allow participants to have more certainty about their future. The review will focus generally on the experiences of people within the NDIS framework with regard to administration, decision making and appeals, in addition to the roles and responsibilities of state and federal governments to support people with disabilities and provide information about the NDIS.

The Government is inviting feedback to inform the standards and time frames to be put in place by way of a review of the NDIS Act. Feedback regarding processes and applications for children and those who require specialist accommodation or technology, or other matters under the NDIS which require further approval.

If you wish to give feedback, you can complete the survey online, send in a written submission or participate in a workshop. The review is to be led by Mr David Tune AO PSM, and is due to be complete by the end of this year. The NDIS Participant Service Guarantee is set to be implemented by 1 July 2020.

You can read the Terms of Reference for the review here. To find out how you can participate, please visit this website.

 

Industry alert: emergency planning for aged care services

As the high risk season for major Australian weather events and bushfires fast approaches, the Department of Health has issued an industry alert on emergency planning for aged care services and a guide for risk management for emergency events.

Maintaining quality care and services to care recipients during emergency events forms part of a provider’s responsibilities under the quality standards, Aged Care Act 1997 and funding agreements for those public providers.

The Department has reminded providers to be well prepared to respond to a range of emergency events that may impact on the delivery of care.

Emergency events may result in partial or full evacuations of facilities, staff shortages, shortages of essential supplies and power failure. To fulfil their care requirements in these circumstances, providers need well developed risk management plans and procedures that are tailored to their location and circumstances, revised and updated in consultation with local emergency authorities.

In the case of an evacuation of a residential aged care service, the provider’s emergency plan should identity alternative accommodations. If the provider is unable to maintain its care and service obligations, then the Department should be contacted on the local contact details provided.

The Department expects providers to “take all reasonable steps to continue to deliver services as far as possible during an emergency event and to recommence full service delivery as soon as possible after the event.”

The cost of relocating or evacuating recipients of aged care services in an emergency should be anticipated. Providers are responsible for meeting their care needs during an emergency and will “not receive additional aged care funding for costs incurred preparing for or during an emergency”. However, emergency response funding may be made available following an extraordinary event.

You can read the Department of Health’s industry alert here and Guide for Risk Management for Emergency Events here.

 

Anita Courtney and Melanie Tan have been published in LASA's Spring issue of Fusion

Principal Anita Courtney and Senior Associate Melanie Tan have had an article published in LASA's Spring issue of Fusion, titled: 'Secure Dementia Units'.

This article provides key recommendations regarding the new obligations under the Quality of Care Amendment (Minimising the Use of Restraints) Principles 2019, which commenced on 1 July.

You can read more about their article, titled 'Secure Dementia Units', here.

 

If you would like to learn more about Russell Kennedy's expertise in the Aged Care sector here.

If you would like to stay up to date with Russell Kennedy's insights, please sign up here.

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