Update on Royal Commission Activities

The Royal Commission hearings have changed to discussion workshops.  The first panel workshop was held in Adelaide  (11 February 2020) and focused on Redesigning the Aged Care System.

In the past, the Commission has focused on issues within the sector whereas the 2020 hearings will concentrate on discussing solutions, fixes and models that will potentially improve the sector.

Each of the workshops will have a panel of professionals from across the industry providing feedback.  Within the topics for the workshop, additional questions around viability and potential success and the outcomes of these discussions will be considered as part of the final report recommendations due later this year.

  • David Tune (AO PSM, Independent Chair of the Aged Care Sector Committee) proposed a similar model to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), where participants can use their funding with non NDIS providers.
  • Glen Rees (Chairman of Alzheimer’s Disease International) believes there needs to be more direction with what to do next when accessing aged care and agrees that the introduction of care navigators, suggested by the Commission, could help. He says that people with dementia specifically, are left post-diagnosis in an absolute vacuum.  He says there needs to be a structure that takes people from the point of diagnosis to a navigator to help plan and direct services.
  • Pat Sparrow (CEO ACSA) says referral to simple aged care related services should be accessible through multiple sources in the community.

Also discussed was the possibility and improved data collection for informing future quality care.

  • Michael Lye (Dep. Secretary of the Ageing and Aged Care Department of Health) says better data collection can show where the gaps are in aged care and give a basis for how the industry can improve. He feels that if we are going to have a continuum of care for older Australians, we need to understand what is happening in their lives and pathways they will take as well as how they move between systems.  He feels that any additional data that can be collected and which helps inform good service delivery is worth pursuing.

There was a lot of debate around the navigation model and how that would work with funding, its independence and how involved family and informal carers should be.

The navigation discussion included streamlining the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACATs) and Regional Assessment Teams (RAS)

  • Ian Yates (CEO Council On The Ageing – COTA) said that COTA would want the assessment process to be combined and that care finding and navigation is something that could come later.  He adds that assessment should be paid for by the Commonwealth and needs to be independent of service providers.
  • This comment was backed by Professor Michael Fine (Dept. of Sociology Macquarie University) She stated that we don’t want good businesses being tainted by the accusation that they’re over-servicing or providing services where they are not needed.
  • Ian Yates (COTA) was also concerned about added input that could come from family, friends and informal carers because COTA deals with a lot of elder abuse cases, including inheritance protection by families. He believes that a care finder if implemented, should be able to facilitate the process of a guardianship order in cases of elder abuse.
  • Ricki Smith (CEO Access Care Network) Felt that a care finder or navigator could help push consumers in the right direction when making decisions. He feels that the complicating factor is that there are two assessment workforces (ACAT/RAS) and two different funding mechanisms that get in the way.
  • Nicholas Hartland (PSM, First Assistant Secretary – (In-Home Aged Care, Dept. of Health) suggested a mixture of face to face assessments and available shopfronts. He also feels that navigation should be available in existing face to face services, like community centres.

Entry Level Support

A discussion around what entry-level support is was held with one topic examining whether home care services are causing dependence instead of independence.

  • David Panter (CEO ECH and LASA Board Member) said that access for extra help around the home for low-level services needs to have a fairly low bar so that people who have finally built up the courage to access these services are not put off. He added that we need to get early adoption of these services because potentially people will decline and be in even greater need.
  • Jane Mussared (CEO SA COTA) feels there needs to be an independent service3 working with individuals to find the best option for them and without outside bias coming into play. In the pursuit of re-ablement, we have to make sure that we retain the choice and control which should be the ove3rarching principle.  She goes onto say that this should be accompanied by someone actively working with that person who is independent of the service system, to make sure the person’s choice and decision making is not overridden.

Update on Government Plans on ACAT

On Friday 28 February 2020, the Government announced that it will abandon its controversial plans to privatise the ACAT assessment process.  They advised that the Commonwealth confirmed that it is not proceeding with the current tender process.

This follows months of anger from the public, the sector and several politicians over the plans which some say would lower the standard of assessment and focus on profit over care.

The reasons for pursuing privatisation of assessment processes was touted as a Royal Commission recommendation.  However, the Commission has made it clear that there was no such finding.