Are you aware of ALL of the changes that have taken place in the aged care sector this year?

8 July 2019
Sabine Phillips, Partner, Melbourne

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we don’t blame you. Below is a summary of what has happened since 1 January 2019, and what you need to do to ensure your facilities and/or services remain compliant with any new legislation, standards and principles.

What has been introduced?What does this mean for me as a provider?
Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 The Act established the ACQS Commission, with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018 repealing a number of principles, including the Quality Agency Principles 2013.

Key changes introduced under the Act include:

Accreditation and re-accreditation

  • Approved providers must take reasonable steps to ensure each care recipient AND their nominated representative is informed of a site audit as a part of the accreditation process;

  • Where a decision is made not to accredit a commencing service/ not to re-accredit an accredited service/ or to revoke accreditation of an accredited service, there is no longer a requirement to notify the approved provider of any areas where they can make improvements; and

  • Reports appear to leave significant scope for interpretation by the decision-maker. Our advice is to respond to any report where the information is incorrect, vague, incomplete or unclear.

Assessment contacts

  • There is no requirement regarding the notice period that the Commission must give a provider of an upcoming assessment contact for both home and residential services.

Quality review for home care services

  • Quality reviews will be conducted by registered quality assessors, and must include a site visit to the premises of the home care service provider;

  • Providers do not have to be given notice of an upcoming site visit, affecting how providers inform consumers and their nominated representatives; and

  • Final reports must include a timetable for improvement where non-compliance with the Standards has been found, as well as arrangements for assessment contacts with the service.

Review audits for residential services

  • Process has been changed to align more closely with site audit arrangements for home care services.

Aged Care Quality Standards
and
Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Single Quality Framework Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Instrument 2019
The Aged Care Quality Standards came into effect on 1 July 2019, and are a single set of Standards that apply to all aged care services including residential care, home care, flexible care and CHSP services.

The new Standards focus on quality outcomes for consumers rather than provider processes, and are intended to make it easier for consumers and their families to understand what they can expect from a service.

Additionally, by replacing the four previous sets of Standards, providers who work across multiple services will have a single set of Standards across all services.

The Amendment Instrument amended the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Rules 2018 to provide consequential amendments that gave effect to the Standards on 1 July 2019, and transitional rules for the implementation of the Standards from 1 July 2019.

Continuous improvement

Providers of residential and home services must have a written plan for continuous improvement that explains how they will meet their obligations in relation to the service and the Standards from 1 July 2019.

The Commission's Rules incorporate a new definition of how providers are to implement a plan for continuous improvement, which incorporates a strong link to the self-assessment process.
Charter of Aged Care RightsThe Charter came into effect on 1 July 2019, and combines the four previous Charters relating to the rights of aged care recipients into one single Charter.

Providers must give consumers a copy of the new Charter signed by the provider, and must assist the consumer to understand and subsequently sign the new Charter by:

  • 1 July 2019 onwards for all new consumers;

  • 30 September 2019 for existing consumers in residential care and short-term restorative care in a residential care setting; and

  • 31 December 2019 for existing consumers in home care and short-term restorative care in a home care setting.

Aged Care Quality Standards - minimising restraints The Standards were introduced on 15 May 2019 and require providers to ensure that:

  1. Restrictive practices are exercised in accordance with best practice and as a last resort;

  2. Provider's records demonstrate that staff are trained and supported to assess the use of restraints to minimise their use; and

  3. Each facility has systems in place to manage the use of restraints where it is clinically necessary to utilise restraint to prevent harm, accompanied by evidence of consent for their use.

The Quality of Care Amendment (Minimising the Use of Restraints) Principles 2019 (Cth), together with the Standards, highlight the importance for providers to have:

  • Robust clinical governance frameworks regarding the use of restraints; and

  • Thorough documentation of assessments and outcomes in resident care plans where restraints are used, as evidence of compliance.

Voluntary Assisted Dying ('VAD')The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2017 (Vic) came into effect on 19 June 2019, and allows people to legally request to die. To be eligible a person must satisfy very strict eligibility criteria.

Providers must ensure they have contemplated the implications under the VAD Act for their service including:

  • The need for appropriate policies and procedures;

  • The provision of appropriate training for staff;

  • How to determine whether a resident is on a VAD pathway when registered health practitioners are precluded from initiating discussions about VAD;

  • The storage requirements for VAD substances, and the problems posed by a lack of regulation around access to VAD substances; and

  • How to ensure approved providers exercise due diligence to prevent the commission of an offence under the VAD Act.

National Aged Care Quality Indicator Program The Program requires providers to submit quarterly data to the Department on pressure sores, use of physical restraint, and unplanned weight loss from 1 July 2019.

The Quality Indicator data is intended to give consumers transparent, comparable information about quality in aged care, albeit for limited indicators.

The first data collection period is from 1 July 2019 to 30 September 2019, with data due to the Department by 21 October 2019.

Providers should have systems in place to monitor these indicators and to ensure they comply with the data cut-off dates. The Department and the ACQS Commission have authority to investigate, and to take regulatory action where there is non-compliance with the data cut off dates.
Comparability of Home Care Pricing Information Principles 2019 The Pricing Information Principles came into effect on 1 July 2019, and require all home care providers to publish their pricing information in a new standardised Home Care Pricing Schedule on the My Aged Care website.

Home care providers will be required to undertake the following for new clients from 1 July 2019, and for existing clients before 1 July 2020:

  • Print a copy of the pricing Schedule and include it within each client's Home Care Agreement;

  • Charge clients the price in the Schedule that is included in their Home Care agreement; and

  • Change their existing administration charging practices, as they will no longer be able to charge separately for business-related costs.


The Department will be actively monitoring provider compliance with these new requirements, and it is essential that providers ensure their policies and procedures are updated to meet these new legislative provisions.

If have any questions regarding the legislative changes, or would like assistance in updating your policies, please contact Sabine Phillips on (03) 9252 7720, or Tamie Duncan-Bible on (03) 9252 2575.

Authored by:

Sabine Phillips, Partner

Tamie Duncan-Bible, Senior Associate

Abigail Gedge, Paralegal

This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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