A number of significant reforms to the aged care sector came info effect late last year in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
The changes introduced by the Federal Government establish new requirements for aged care through measures that aim to improve accountability and transparency within the industry.
One of the most significant changes include a new funding model called the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC), that replaces the existing Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI).
This funding instrument provides subsidies to aged care providers based on the type of service and each resident’s care needs, and is connected to the new minimum numbers of care minutes per day that a resident should receive during the day.
Christadelphian Aged Care’s Chief Clinical Officer, Bruce Thornthwaite, said it was still too early to accurately estimate the overall effect of the new funding system,
“While the overall funding seems to be slightly higher, we are seeing that the Government is already adjusting the subsidies to reduce funding. That and the shortage of staff are going to be major issues in the coming year,” he said.
A new program is being developed to make staff aware of the new funding model, which is essential since auditors will now only speak with day-to-day care staff and residents, rather than the Care Manager or senior staff as they did previously.
A new Aged Care Sector Code of Conduct is also being introduced that will set out standards of expected behaviours.
Bruce said the Code strengthened the principle of putting the resident first and taking into consideration what the resident wants.
“It is based on acknowledgment, acceptance and respect, and all of these have been part of the philosophy of Christadelphian Homes for many years,” he said.
A star rating system for aged care has also been developed, and homes now have an overall star rating listed on My Aged Care, based on information gathered through measurable indicators of quality and available data.
Homes are rated against four categories, including quality indicators, compliance ratings, consumer experience and staff care minutes.
Legislative changes around the use of restrictive practices have also been introduced, that mandate the nomination of a “restrictive practices substitute decision-maker” if a resident lacks capacity to give informed consent.
Governance requirements for aged care providers have been strengthened, which require providers to assess the suitability of key personnel at least once a year, report annually on their operations, and meet reporting requirements for changes to governance.
While the long-term benefits of the aged care reforms were clear, a more cooperative approach from the Government would have been helpful, Bruce said, along with a discussion around the cost of the changes.
“The greater problem is lack of staff and the minimum pay rate that these staff receive for doing a very demanding job, especially when NDIS staff are being paid almost double the aged care staff rate, while not having to do the difficult work of physical personal care,” he said.
These changes are some of a number of reforms that came info effect at the end of last year.
For more information on the aged care reforms visit www.agedcarequality.gov.au.