Frontline: NDIS and Aged Care news you need to know (18 Jan 2023)

Aged Care News

Aged care facilities see profits plunge

Industry publication HelloCare has released a report showing 70 per cent of Australian aged care facilities are running at a loss – thanks to staff shortages, increased levels of overtime, and high agency staff costs.

Its latest StewartBrown Aged Carer Financial Performance Survey Sector Report analysed reports from 1,182 of the 2,500 registered aged care facilities in Australia during the July-September period in 2022. The figure is up from 67% reported in the June 2022 quarter.

Facilities reportedly lost an average $21.29 a bed per day over the quarter, compared to $7.30 over the same period the year before.

The June quarter 2022 saw losses at $14.67 on operating costs.

The sector’s declining financial performance has occurred despite a wide range of aged care reforms and funding last year.

The report identified extra funding and long-term reform as the solutions to the crisis.

Aged and Community Care Providers Association CEO Tom Symondson said the numbers in the report equated to an annual loss of $1.4 billion for the industry.

He cited the increased cost of delivering services, combined with the failure of federal funding to keep pace with what’s currently occurring in the sector, as the root causes.

He said: We know the aged care sector has been under huge pressure for years – decades, in fact. COVID has made it worse, but it was already struggling before that.”

Treasurer Jim Chalmers agreed the sector was in a mess, with the majority of providers struggling with heavy losses. But he said the government was looking to “clean it up.”

Queensland care worker first to be banned for life

A Queensland aged care worker has become the first person to be banned from working in the sector, having been arrested and charged with 17 offences for allegedly stealing thousands from elderly residents.

Bonnie Albertella, 51, mother of eight, has been charged with 16 counts of fraud and one of stealing.

Under the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s new Banning Orders, she is permanently barred from being involved in any type of aged care work.

Police allege she stole cash from multiple residents and used one client’s credit card several times, spending thousands of their dollars.

Ms Albertella worked for The Good Shepherd Home in Annandale, Townsville. She was fired in December.

The home’s director, Leonie O’Neill said it was cooperating with the police on the investigation and supporting affected residents needing additional assistance.

The banning order is part of the new Code of Conduct for Aged Care.

Five key aged care reforms in 2023

Barely a month into 2023 and it is already shaping up to be another big year for aged care providers. Here are five major upcoming reforms to flag now so that you can prepare early and be ready.
  • mandatory 200 minutes of care time per resident per day (including 40 RN minutes) from October 2023
  • mandatory 215 minutes of care time per resident per day (including 44 RN minutes) from October 2024.

Details are yet to be finalised.

The proposed revised quality Standards will be:
Standard 1: The Person
Standard 2: The Organisation
Standard 3: The Care and Services
Standard 4: The Environment
Standard 5: Clinical Care
Standard 6: Food and Nutrition
Standard 7: The Residential Community
Under the new Governance rules, providers will need to ensure that:
  • a majority of the members of the governing body are independent non-executive members
  • at least one member of the governing body has experience in the provision of clinical care.
These requirements do not apply to small aged care homes (with fewer than five board members and fewer than 40 residents) or to Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations.

The new reforms also require providers to give their care recipients and the care recipients’ representatives the opportunity to form a consumer advisory body.

Providers must provide this opportunity at least every 12 months and keep a record of each offer.

The consumer advisory body would be able to give the provider feedback on the quality of its service and the care provided.

If such a body is established, the governing body of the provider is obliged to consider the body’s feedback when making decisions about the quality of care and inform the body of this consideration. If a consumer advisory body is formed, records must be kept about its composition.

There are also new requirements related to aged care providers who are a wholly owned subsidiary of another body corporate that is not an aged care provider.

To ensure that the interests of consumers are always placed first and foremost, a provider cannot allow their constitution to authorise a director of the provider to act in the best interests of the holding company.

These requirements apply from 1 December 2023 for existing providers. For providers who are approved after 1 December 2022, the requirements apply immediately.

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