Year in review: the changing landscape of aged care

Elderly care
A number of aged care reforms were introduced last year, and Christadelphian Homes is well-positioned to embrace the new opportunities and tackle any challenges arising from the changes.
Care minutes

From October 1, 2023, each resident must receive a minimum of 200 minutes of care every day from Registered Nurses (RNs), Enrolled Nurses (ENs) and Assistants-in-Nursing (AINs). At least 40 of these minutes must involve an RN.

RNs provide specialist nursing care including complex patient assessment, care plan development and evaluation of care. AINs assist with daily living routines such as showering, eating, mobility and monitoring of the health and wellbeing of residents.

The mandatory care minutes do not include time spent with residents by other staff such as allied health, lifestyle and recreation staff, or others involved in catering, hotel services, administration, or cleaning and maintenance.

Overall, Christadelphian Homes has been providing more care minutes than required for some time. However minor adjustments are needed at some of our sites to ensure we meet, if not exceed, minimum requirements, and allocate the optimum amount of care to all residents.

The changes also require significant ongoing reporting and management, and will impact Government subsidies received if not satisfied.

The mandatory care minutes are set to increase a further 15 minutes from October 1, 2024, to 215 minutes per day per resident.

Funding changes

It has been more than a year since the introduction of the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding model, which marked a significant shift in the way aged care is funded.

Under the reforms, the care needs of each resident determine the subsidies paid to aged care providers.

Residents are placed into one of 13 classes of care by independent assessors depending on the level of care they require, and those who require higher levels of care receive more funding.

Christadelphian Homes has a robust framework in place to ensure funding for each resident is optimised and remains aligned to actual care being provided, with any reclassifications promptly submitted to the Department of Health and Aged Care.

This is a significant change from past years, and imposes a large management and reporting obligation on aged care providers.

Christadelphian Homes’ average daily AN-ACC cost has been sitting just below the industry average since the funding model was introduced, due in part to the profile of care needs of residents in our Homes.

We consider this satisfactory for the organisation at the moment, and it will also change over time and gradually align to the industry average.

At an industry-wide level, the AN-ACC model represents a significant increase in aged care funding, including $7.6 billion over four years. It also aligns with the recent 15 per cent award wage increase for care staff and $2.5 billion in indexation to help cover some of the other cost increases incurred since the AN-ACC ‘values’ were set.

There is also $743 million over three years to deliver ongoing increases to mandatory care minutes (to 215 minutes from next year), and an increase of $178 million in the registered nurse supplement over four years to ensure 24/7 registered nursing is available from all providers.

Christadelphian Homes welcomes the extra funding to the industry, which is expected to deliver us more than $6.5m in additional income per year. However, all of this will be quickly absorbed by the additional care minutes, increased reporting and management efforts, the recent 15 per cent care wage increases, and increased costs the organisation continues to bear generally.

Other reforms

A number of additional aged care reforms are planned or being implemented by the Government. Many of these support the increase in care quality and transparency, however they also all impose some additional requirements and costs on providers.

Christadelphian Homes has put a number of new initiatives in place to meet the new requirements:

  • We recently introduced an organisational Code of Conduct to meet the new requirement of ensuring all staff comply with Code of Conduct provisions.
  • Policies are now in place to report material changes and suitability of key personnel, and staff qualifications, skills and experience.
  • We have met the requirements regarding membership of our governing body, and the annual submission of information for each of our operations.
  • We have finalised the establishment of advisory bodies at our Homes.
Planned future reforms

A completely new Aged Care Act is being developed following recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The new Act is set to be introduced from July 1, 2024, and aims to increasingly place older people at the centre of the aged care system and provide the framework for fundamental change within the sector.

It will outline the responsibilities of aged care providers and legislate regulations aimed at safeguarding the rights of older Australians to safe, high-quality care.