Frontline: NDIS and Aged Care news you need to know (7 December 2022)

NDIS News

NDIS legacy appeal cases slashed

Sixty percent of the NDIS legacy appeal cases inherited from the Morrison Government have been cleared, thanks to “overhauled dispute resolution processes.”

This includes an Independent Expert Review Pathway pilot that has facilitated the Labor Government’s election promise to help resolve disputes arising from NDIS decisions in a forum that is accessible, fair and efficient.

The new process was also designed with the view of cutting the number of appeals that progress to hearing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

NDIS Minister Bill Shorten described the slashing of legacy appeals as one of the most positive achievements since becoming the Minister.

Overseen by an independent oversight committee headed by former Disability Discrimination Commissioner Dr Graeme Innes, the Expert Panel will be expanded in Phase Two of the IER pilot, with 16 new members to support the resolution of more than 200 additional cases.

Those having cases being considered by the panel will have access to a Participant Support Hotline, which will provide independent advocacy and legal support.

The NDIS Quarterly Report shows there are now more than 550,000 Australians with disability receiving life changing support from the world leading Scheme.

New therapy qualifications and definitions

There are now more categories of therapeutic supports and support items listed in the latest NDIS Pricing Arrangements and Price Limits, along with the qualifications needed to be regarded as a provider in that sector.

Although the NDIA’s list extension was not signalled beforehand, it helps participants better understand the supports they receive.

* Art Therapist: a person who is a professional member of the Australian, New Zealand and Asian Creative Arts Therapy Association.

* Audiologist: a person certified as an accredited audiologist by Audiology Australia or a full member audiologist of the Australian College if Audiology.

* Counsellor: a member of the Australian Counselling Association or an accredited registrant with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

* Dietitian: an accredited practicing dietitian with Dietitians Australia.

* Exercise physiologist: an accredited exercise physiologist with Exercise and Sports Science Australia.

* Music Therapist: an active registered music therapist with the Australian Music Therapy Association.

* Occupation therapist: an occupational therapist currently registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

* Orthoptist: person with current registration with the Australian Orthoptic Board.

* Physiotherapist: a physiotherapist with a current AHPRA registration.

* Podiatrist: a podiatrist with a current AHPRA registration.

* Psychologist: a psychologist with a current AHPRA registration.

* Rehabilitation Counsellor: a member of the Australian Society of Rehabilitation Counsellors Inc. or equivalent.

* Social worker: a member of the Australian Association of Social Workers.

* Speech pathologist: a member of Speech Pathology Australia.

* Other professional: a professional the provider considers appropriate to administer the therapeutic support according to the standards set by the NDIS Quality and Safety Commission for the therapeutic supports registration group but who does not fit into ay of the categories of professions. Plan Managers have the right to request proof that a practitioner has the qualifications listed if:

* Invoices are unclear about the sort of therapy provided and/or

* There is cause to suspect a provider is billing inappropriately about their qualifications.

All therapists providing support must be covered by professional indemnity insurance, directly or through their employers’ insurance.

Aged Care News

New aged care standards are coming

An in-depth review, which has included public consultation, has foreshadowed changes to the aged care system – reform born out of the royal commission’s report.

The proposed changes will cut the number of Standards from eight to seven, and consolidate some areas covered by each of the Standards.

There will be new expectation statements for each of the Standards, replacing the consumer outcome statements in the current Standards. These expectation statements will describe what an older person can expect from their provider in relation to each standard and are intended to give practical guidance to providers.

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

It is anticipated that not all the new Standards will apply to all providers and that the application of some of the Standards would depend on the types of services delivered and the risks associated with them.

For instance, home care providers would not be required to comply with the Standards relating to residential aged care communities or clinical care if this is not provided.

This is intended to bring the Aged Care Quality Standards in line with the NDIS Practice Standards regarding modularity and the use of outcomes and actions as a means of assessment.

Why Are the Standards Being Revised?

The Standards are being revised because of feedback from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which found existing Standards only set out minimum acceptable standards for accreditation and did not motivate and empower providers to achieve high quality care and outcomes for consumers.

It identified several areas for improvement in relation to the Standards, including:
  • better reflecting the needs of people living with dementia and the provision of quality dementia care
  • better recognising diversity and improving cultural safety
  • strengthening governance and human resources requirements
  • more descriptive requirements relating to food and nutrition
  • more detailed requirements around clinical care.
While the requirements under the revised Standards are expected to be similar to the existing Standards, there may be some significant changes for providers of aged care. These include requirements for more robust governance and quality systems, as well as evidence-based practices and an increased focus on continuous improvement.

There is expected be a transition period to allow providers to familiarise themselves with the new Standards and to implement any systems and practices to allow them to comply.

Further consultation will begin in early 2023 on guidance material for providers and older people, as well as the implementation of the revised Standards and transition periods.

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