OT News: Discover What's Happening

Browse the latest OTA updates, industry news and OT developments across Australia.

Aged Care

OTA are actively working towards a better Aged Care sector that supports our profession to deliver the high quality, specialised services our older population want and need.

We represented the profession in the lead up to, and during, the Aged Care Royal Commission.  At this time of widespread sector reform, we continue to represent you.

How OTA are representing you

OTA are actively participating in the key reform opportunities that have stemmed from the Federal Government 2021 budget commitments to reform the aged care sector.

We have participated across all areas of reform through submissions, direct consultation sessions or attendance at workshops and updates.

We are also taking every opportunity to maximise our voice through collaborative projects with key stakeholders:

  • The development of a National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) endorsed Position Statement, led by Allied Health Professionals Association (AHPA), on the need for allied health in RACF. View document here.
  • The development of My Health Record Allied Health datasets to allow allied health aged care records to be shared with other care services and health professionals. This project is led by AHPA and funded by Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA).
  • Consultation with the Independent Hospital and Aged Care Pricing Authority (IHACPA) to support the development of aged care pricing that accurately reflect the true cost and utilisation of allied health services.

OTA have been working with our aged care membership and stakeholders to build a picture of aged care occupational therapy, the issues and opportunities facing our profession and what we hope for the future of aged care.

We know:

  • Clinicians want to work under a model of practice that places the client at the centre of care and promotes an evidence based reablement and positive ageing approach.
  • More specialist aged care clinical services are needed to address the complex health needs of the growing ageing population and many of these are offered by occupational therapists.
  • Occupational therapy workforce attraction and retention issues are being experienced across all aged care settings and programs.
  • Pay rate discrepancies across sectors and other systematic limitations are impacting negatively on work satisfaction and are diminishing a workforce already experiencing significant shortages. Previous funding systems have limited the ability of occupational therapists to work to their full scope of practice.

Future of occupational therapy in aged care – what we expect of our aged care system.

Through our advocacy work OTA are actively working to influence the future of the aged care sector so that:

  1. Occupational therapists are supported to work to full scope of practice across all aged care settings and programs
  2. Older people have choice and control over their health and support needs and are supported in their endeavours to positively age in place.
  3. Funding ensures access to timely, high quality occupational therapy services, assistive technologies, and home modifications.
  4. Occupational therapists are appropriately and consistently remunerated for all their services in recognition of their skilled expertise.

We need you!

Now, more than ever, we need the views and voices of aged care OTs to be heard. During this time of significant sector reform and federal election campaigns, we have an opportunity to build and shape the future of Australia’s aged care system.

To ensure you’re across the engagement and consultation opportunities shaping the aged care reform, and are having your views heard, we encourage you to please sign up for:

  • Aged Care Newsletter: offers updates on reform work and sector changes;
  • Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub: directs you to current engagement opportunities via the Get Involved tab and will inform you of upcoming engagement activities and opportunities
  • Aged Care Member Feedback: OTA want to hear from you on key areas of reform so we can most accurately represent your professional and clinical views. Most urgently, we want to hear your thoughts about the proposed Support at Home Program.

To provide your feedback on the aged care sector reforms, please contact OTA.

Contact OTA

OTA will continue to keep you updated on the work happening across the aged care sector reform and any further opportunities for engagement as they arise. Click on the following links to find out more on key reform projects:

Key Reform Projects

The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) is a new assessment model for the allocation of Commonwealth funding and subsidy to Residential Aged Care (RAC) settings and commenced on 1st October 2022.  It has been designed as a replacement to the existing Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) which has been operating within Australian residential care facilities since 2008.

Residents are assessed by an independent assessment workforce outside of the residential aged care setting. The assessment is administered by trained clinicians (including occupational therapists) and involves a mixture of client and family interviews, clinical record evaluation and staff interviews.  The assessment tool considers a persons physical and cognitive ability, behaviour and mental health.

Following assessment, residents are categorised into one of 13 classification levels best matching their assessed care needs.

AN-ACC classification

Resident description

Class 1*

Admit for palliative care

Class 2

Independent without compounding factors

Class 3

Independent with compounding factors

Class 4

Assisted mobility, high cognition, without compounding factors

Class 5

Assisted mobility, high cognition, with compounding factors

Class 6

Assisted mobility, medium cognition, without compounding factors

Class 7

Assisted mobility, medium cognition, with compounding factors

Class 8

Assisted mobility, low cognition

Class 9

Not mobile, higher function, without compounding factors

Class 10

Not mobile, higher function, with compounding factors

Class 11

Not mobile, lower function, lower pressure sore risk

Class 12

Not mobile, lower function, higher pressure sore risk, without compounding factors

Class 13

Not mobile, lower function, higher pressure sore risk, with compounding factors

AN-ACC funds the following three components of residential care:

  1. Base Care Tariff
  2. AN-ACC classification funding based on the individual care needs of residents
  3. Initial entry adjustment payment for transitioning a permanent resident into a service.

What does this mean for occupational therapy?

  • The AN-ACC doesn’t intend to be as prescriptive (or potentially as restrictive) as the ACFI funding model.  Occupational therapists should be able to work to full scope of practice.
  • The AN-ACC was designed to ensure a greater focus on the broader needs of the resident and to ensure the right funds are assigned.
  • The assessment is administered by trained clinicians (including occupational therapists) independent to the RAC facility and involves a mixture of client and family interviews, clinical record evaluation and staff interviews.

What we’re monitoring

  • There is no dedicated funding or benchmarking for allied health under the AN-ACC funding model.  Recommendations have been made for minimum allied health care minutes to match the gold standard Canadian model of 22 minutes per day/per resident.
  • There is no care planning component to the current model.  Aged care providers are left to determine the right allied health case mix and to address individual needs identified from the assessment.  The University of Wollongong, when presenting the AN-ACC, made it clear in their recommendations that a best practice, needs identification and care planning assessment must be developed.  Again, there have been no official statements from the Department on this.
  • It is unclear how this model will increase allied health services in residential aged care as per the recommendations made by the Royal Commission.  There is early feedback that allied health services, including occupational therapy, have been negatively impacted under the new funding model.

Where to from here:

  • OTA are working closely with our allied health partners to formally request clarification from the Commonwealth on
    • how the AN-ACC will increase allied health services in RACF (per Royal Commission recommendations 37, 38 and 58).
    • how allied health in RACF will be funded.
  • We are also seeking confirmation from the Department on their commitment to fulfil the key recommendation made by the University of Wollongong to implement a needs identification and care planning assessment tool across RACFs.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening with the AN-ACC implementation:

The AN-ACC Funding Model: An Introduction – fact sheet providing a overview of the funding model.

Residential Aged Care Funding Reform – this page details the background to the development of the AN-ACC, the shadow assessment process and the transition process.

AN-ACC Assessment process and classification– outlines the AN-ACC assessment pathway, the tools used and the classification process.

AN-ACC Reference Manual and AN-ACC Assessment Tool

How to receive the latest information and learn about aged care engagement opportunities:

Aged Care Newsletter: offers updates on reform work and sector changes

Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub: directs you to current engagement opportunities via the 'Get Involved' tab and will inform you of upcoming engagement activities and opportunities via the 'Register your interest' tab.

 

The Commonwealth Government are proposing a new home based aged care program that combines the current Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), Home Care Packages (HCP) and Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) and residential respite programs under one umbrella program, the Support at Home Program. 

The new Support at Home Program will start from 1 July 2025.  Existing in-home care programs including the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) and the Home Care Packages (HCP) Program will continue until 30 June 2025.

There have been several consultation papers released on the proposed features of the new program. In January 2022 the Commonwealth released an overview paper that outlines the proposed features of the new program with an updated discussion paper released in October 2022

What is being proposed?

  • Use of a new integrated assessment tool to determine individualised needs and funding allocation across a list of key service categories.
  • Single assessment workforce
  • A move away from ‘block funding’ towards a fee for service model based on a classification system
  • Older Australians will be able to self-manage their care and receive services from a range of providers.

What does this mean for occupational therapy?

  • Once an assessment has been completed, clients can take direction on their care based on the assessed needs and funding made available.  This opens up the possibility for more private and sole trading OTs to operate in space where grant funding allocations (i.e. CHSP) have limited this.
  • Dedicated funds for assistive/digital technologies and home modifications as a separate service area.

What don’t we know?

  • The Commonwealth have asked the Independent Hospital and Aged Care Pricing Authority to set prices that reflect the cost of delivering the various services covered by the program however it is unclear what the unit rate will be for allied health services.
  • The Commonwealth have also committed to creating an Aged Care Taskforce to consider funding and co-contribution arrangements, and finalise the service list for Support at Home.
  • The use of RAS and ACAS assessors are likely to continue in the single assessment workforce.  It is unclear, through this model, how clinical assessors will be used to support the more complex assessments.
  • The classification levels and what funding allocations are still being finalised with - 11 draft categories being proposed (May 2023):

  • Plan review pathways or the use of care partners in this process are also being finalised.
  • The delivery of the AT and home modifications pathway within the Support at Home program is still being considered and it is unclear how these will be funded or administered.  Loan schemes are being trialled with existing state based equipment programs.

Where to from here:

OTA are working closely with the department and our key stakeholders to help inform the new Support at Home Program through ongoing consultation.

 

If you want to learn more about what’s happening with the Support at Home Program:

Reform to in-home aged care – this website outlines the various actions and works underway around the reform of home based aged care services including information about the Support at Home Assessment Trial Advisory group and the associated ‘Living Lab’ trial of the proposed assessment tool.

A New Program for In-Home Aged Care Discussion paper – released in Oct 2022 it details the program considering consultation feedback.

Assistive Technologies and Home Modifications Scheme for in-home aged care – this paper outlines the plans for the delivery of a dedicated funding scheme within the support at home program for the funding of assistive technologies and home modifications.

How to receive the latest information and learn about aged care engagement opportunities:

Aged Care Newsletter: offers updates on reform work and sector changes;

Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub: directs you to current engagement opportunities via the 'Get Involved' tab and will inform you of upcoming engagement activities and opportunities via the 'Register your interest' tab.

In response to the Royal Commission, the Australian Government is developing a new regulatory framework for aged care.  This project aims to achieve alignment of governance and regulation across the aged care, disability, and veterans’ sectors to reduce duplication, guarantee consistency in service quality and ensure safety for participants and consumers.

The alignment project will consider legislative changes that will see:

  • a common Code of Conduct (see Legislative and Quality updates)
  • alignment of registration and accreditation processes for providers
  • a single pathway for worker screening and checks
  • sharing of core care and support standards
  • combining the assessment and audit processes for aged care and NDIS sectors
  • consensus on the management of restrictive practices across sectors
  • streamlining of reporting obligations

The Department have released several papers outlining the proposed model. A Concept paper was released in February 2022 followed by Consultation paper one released in September 2022 and Consultation paper two was released in May 2023.

What does this mean for occupational therapy?

  • Reforms should support OTs to work seamlessly across sectors, thus expanding their clinical and professional range.
  • Reduce burden of cross-sector registration requirements and potentially reduce associated costs.
  • Offer a more consistent approach to managing clinical governance and quality across sectors.
  • Support work to consolidate IT infrastructure across sectors (details on this are limited).

What we don’t know:

  • How these changes will be operationalised and implemented is yet to be explained. The preliminary design work has been completed with the most recent model outlined in Consultation paper two.
  • It is unclear if jurisdictional specific regulation or registration requirements will be absorbed by these changes or if there will be some continued duplication.

Where to from here:

OTA have actively participated in consultation opportunities over the last 18 months and will continue to do so as the opportunities arise.  We welcome feedback from our members on this topic.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening with alignment of regulation work:

Developing a new model for regulating Aged Care – this page provides links to the past and current consultation papers, details the feature of the model, and provides links to FAQ pages and past webinar presentations.

How to receive the latest information and learn about aged care engagement opportunities:

Aged Care Newsletter: offers updates on reform work and sector changes;

Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub: directs you to current engagement opportunities via the 'Get Involved' tab and will inform you of upcoming engagement activities and opportunities via the 'Register your interest' tab.

The Royal Commission identified the lack of information available to assist senior Australian’s and their families around quality and safety when seeking and receiving residential aged care.

In response to this, a new Star Rating system was developed to help people to make informed choices and incentivise providers to improve the quality of their services.

The star rating system for aged care will be a 5 star rating system.

  • 1 star will be “Unacceptable”
  • 2 stars will be “Needs improvement”
  • 3 stars will be “Meets expectations”
  • 4 stars will be “Exceeds expectations”
  • 5 stars will be “Outstanding”

The overall rating is based on a provider's performance across four subcategories:

  • Residents’ Experience – aged care residents are interviewed about their overall experience of their aged care home. Residents’ Experience makes up 33 per cent of the overall Star Rating.
  • Compliance – regulatory decisions by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission including compliance with the Aged Care Quality Standards. Compliance makes up 30 per cent of the overall Star Rating.
  • Staffing – the amount of care received from a registered nurse, enrolled nurse or personal care worker to each resident in an aged care home compared to the average care targets set by the Australian Government. Staffing makes up 22 per cent of the overall Star Rating.
  • Quality Measures – information about five crucial areas of care: falls and major injury, unplanned weight loss, pressure injuries, medication management and the use of physical restraint. Quality Measures makes up 15 per cent of the overall Star Rating.

Star Ratings are based on the most recent available data and are updated at various times:

  • Residents’ Experience Rating – updated annually.
  • Compliance Rating – updated daily.
  • Staffing Rating – updated quarterly.
  • Quality Measures Rating – updated quarterly.

The overall Star Rating automatically recalculates when new data is available.β€―β€―Star Ratings can be found via the ‘Find a provider’ tool on the My Aged Care website.

What does this mean for occupational therapy?

  • A central, user friendly platform that will make it easier to identify facilities that are offering high quality care.
  • Care minutes doesn’t include occupational therapy or other allied health care despite wide acknowledgement by the Royal Commission of the need for greater allied health in RACFs.

What we don’t know

  • How the people from culturally diverse and marginalised communities are supported to access and interpret star ratings information.
  • How new services will be rated, and will small / specialist services be measured differently?

What we are doing

OTA have participated in the consultation around Star Ratings systems and are strongly advocating for the importance of measuring and reporting care delivered by allied health professionals.

OTA will also be closely monitoring the outcomes of new Star Ratings program and the results from the Resident Experience surveys (2023 round is due to conclude in October).

If you want to learn more about what’s happening with star ratings:

Star Ratings for Residential Aged Care – details the project aims and benefits and the key stakeholders involved in the development of this system.

Resident Experience Surveys – details the work underway to measure the experiences of aged care residents, the way in which the results will be reported and examples of how the findings will be presented.

How to receive the latest information and learn about aged care engagement opportunities:

Aged Care Newsletter: offers updates on reform work and sector changes;

Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub: directs you to current engagement opportunities via the 'Get Involved' tab and will inform you of upcoming engagement activities and opportunities via the 'Register your interest' tab.

Updates to aged care legislation - August 2022

On 2 August, the Australian Government passed the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022. The bill implements nine measures to improve aged care and responds to 17 recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission:

  • Residential aged care funding: The Australian National Aged Care Classification will replace the Aged Care Funding Instrument as the residential aged care subsidy system from 1 October 2022
  • The star rating system: The secretary will publish information in relation to the quality and performance of aged care providers for the star rating system.
  • The Code of Conduct: Amendments to the Aged Care Act 1997 and Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 will require compliance with a code of conduct by approved providers and their aged care workers and governing persons. A failure to comply with the code of conduct may result in a sanction being imposed under this Act. It may also result in a civil penalty order or a banning order being made.
  • The Serious Incident Response Scheme will be extended to home and flexible care from 1 December 2022
  • Information Sharing: Amendments to five Acts will enable information sharing between certain Commonwealth bodies including:
    • Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
    • Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission
    • The NDIS Launch Transition Agency, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission
    • the Repatriation Commission
    • the minister and the department administering the Disability Services Act
    • any other Department of State,
    • or any other authority that the commonwealth has regulatory, compliance or enforcement functions in relation to the provision of care, support or treatment services.
  • Use of refundable deposits and accommodation bonds: The secretary or commissioner will be able to request information from a provider or borrower about any loans made with refundable deposits or accommodation bonds. Providers and key personnel of providers will be liable for misusing these loans prior to an insolvency event.
  • Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing: Amendments to the National Health Reform Act 2011, Aged Care Act 1997 and Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Act 2018 will enable the use and disclosure of information required for the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority to perform its new functions.
  • Restrictive practices: The Quality of Care Principles will make provision for the giving of informed consent to the use of restrictive practices in circumstances where a care recipient does not have capacity to consent themselves.

The second piece of legislation, the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Act 2022 (Implementing Care Reform Act), was passed in Parliament on 27 October 2022. It contains three measures responding to two Royal Commission recommendations:

  • Improve integrity and accountability for residential aged care homes.
  • Ban exit fees and enable the capping of administrative and management charges in the Home Care Packages Program. These changes will give older Australians more informed choice and control to get the best value for money in their package. This measure will ensure government funding is being spent to meet their direct care needs.
  • Have a registered nurse onsite and on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in every residential aged care home from 1 July 2023.

Amendments to the Aged Care Act

From the 1 July 2023, a new Aged Care Act will come into effect. It will address the lack of client centred and human rights approaches in aged care noted by the Royal Commission. The new act will be created through consultation with older Australians, key stakeholders and the newly formed Council of Elders and National Aged Care Advisory Council.

More information on the new Aged Care Act.

Expansion of Aged Care Quality Indicators

In July 2019, a mandatory Quality Indicator program was implemented requiring residential aged care settings to provide quality indicator data three monthly on the following areas:

  • pressure injuries
  • physical restraint
  • unplanned weight loss
  • falls and major injury
  • medication management including polypharmacy and anti-psychotics.

In response to the Royal Commission findings, the Australian Government announced their intention to expand the QI program across RACF and into home-based aged care services. The expanded mandatory QI program in RACF commenced on 1 April 2023 and saw the addition of four new domains and two consumer based measures.

  • Activities of daily living
  • Continence
  • Hospitalisations
  • Workforce
  • Consumer Experience
  • Quality of life

Expansion of Serious Incident Response Scheme (SIRS) to home care settings

The Serious incident Response Scheme was established to prevent and reduce incidents of abuse and neglect in residential aged care services subsidised by the Australian Government. Following recommendations from the Royal commission, the SIRS has been expanded to home care and flexible care delivered in a home or community setting. The new enhanced program will see the introduction of responsibilities for both RACF and home care providers to manage and prevent incidents.

Providers will be required to have an effective incident management system in place and must notify the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission if any of the following reportable incidents occur:

  • Unreasonable use of force – for example, hitting, pushing, shoving, or rough handling a consumer
  • Unlawful sexual contact or inappropriate sexual conduct – such as sexual threats against a consumer, stalking, or sexual activities without consumer consent
  • Neglect of a consumer – for example, withholding personal care, untreated wounds, or insufficient assistance during meals
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – such as yelling, name calling, ignoring a consumer, threatening gestures, or refusing a consumer access to care or services as a means of punishment
  • Unexpected death – where reasonable steps were not taken by the provider to prevent the death, the death is the result of care or services provided by the provider or a failure by the provider to provide care and services
  • Stealing or financial coercion by a staff member – for example, if a staff member coerces a consumer to change their will to their advantage, or steals valuables from the consumer
  • Inappropriate use of restrictive practices – where it is used in relation to a consumer in circumstances such as:
    • where a restrictive practice is used without prior consent or without notifying the consumer’s representative as soon as practicable
    • where a restrictive practice is used in a non-emergency situation, or
    • when a provider issues a drug to a consumer to influence their behaviour as a form of restrictive practice
  • Unexplained absence from care – where the consumer is absent from the service without explanation and there are reasonable grounds to report the absence to the police.

Behaviour support plans

From 1 September 2021, Aged Care Act amendments & Quality Care Principles make it mandatory for providers to have Behaviour Support Plans in place whenever there are behavioural changes, or when restraint is imposed or likely to be imposed. This change is for all residents of aged care including those living with dementia with changed behaviours. These changes are aimed at minimising the use of restrictive practices, including chemical restraint, environmental restraint, mechanical restraint, physical restraint and seclusion.

If you need more information, please go to the behaviour support plans fact sheet.

New Code of Conduct

The new Aged Care Code of Conduct was introduced on the 1 December 2022.  This revised code, based on the current NDIS Code of Conduct, will outline requirements of all aged care workers and key personnel of approved providers of aged care. It will also allow for the proposed alignment of regulation and governance across the care and support sectors (see Regulatory Alignment)

More information about the Code of Conduct.

Inspector General for Aged Care

In response to the recommendations from the Aged Care Royal Commission, the Government have introduced an Inspector General of Aged Care and an office to support the Inspector Generals work. A bill was passed in August 2023 to formally establish the role.

The Inspector General of Aged Care will provide independent oversight of all the Government bodies responsible for the administration, regulation and funding of aged care. They will also monitor systemic issues and review complaints management frameworks.

A progress report outlining the status of agreed recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was released by the Inspector General's office in July 2023. You can download a PDF of the progress report (1.2 MB).

Find out more about the Interim Inspector General.

How to receive the latest information and learn about aged care engagement opportunities:

Aged Care Newsletter: offers updates on reform work and sector changes;

Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub: directs you to current engagement opportunities via the 'Get Involved' tab and will inform you of upcoming engagement activities and opportunities.

Aged Care Submissions

OTA presented a submission to the Department of Health and Aged Care on Aged Care Act Exposure Draft. In our response we highlighted our concerns with the draft lacking any reference to restorative care or reablement approaches, the need for greater accountably and positive duty on providers to deliver rights based care, the importance of needs based care and the use of national consistent evidence based assessment and care planning tools to assist in this.

In May 2023, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care released a draft standard around the administration of psychotropic medicines for people with cognitive disabilities or impairment for consultation.

OTA submitted a response calling on a stronger focus for non-pharmacological strategies and emphasising the expertise of occupational therapists in delivering interventions that support a non-pharmacological approaches to managing symptoms of cognitive disability or impairment.

Download the full submission (PDF, 187 KB)

In this submission, OTA provided feedback to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on the proposed guidance materials for the Revised Aged Care Quality Standards due to be released across the aged care sector for both home based and residential aged care. OTA called for greater reference to the role of allied health professionals like occupational therapists in the actions across the revised standards and the need for more explicit detail of how providers and their workers must operate to demonstrate achievement of the standards to ensure high quality and consistent care and services for older people.

OTA provided a submission to the Aged Care Taskforce on their draft aged care funding principles.

In our submission we highlighted the fundamental and valuable role occupational therapists have in aged care irrespective of the setting.

Our submission also summarises the features required of the aged care funding system to support delivery of comprehensive and quality occupational therapy services, namely that funding should:

  • remain the primary responsibility of the Federal Government with a focus on care
  • be easy to understand, accessible, equitable and transparent
  • support personalized restorative and preventative approaches
  • incentivize use of evidence based best practice interventions delivered by suitably
  • qualified professionals like occupational therapists
  • be future focused and flexible.

Download the full submission (PDF, 193 KB)

Occupational therapy services are fundamental to any Support at Home program as they  enable independence, prevent functional decline, increase quality of life and reduce care needs. Occupational therapy is key to enabling older Australians to remain at home longer.

Download the full submission here.

Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) welcomes the opportunity to provide a written submission to the Department of Health on the revised Quality Standards for both in-home and residential aged care.

The Aged Care Quality Standards (Quality Standards) are intended to optimise the consumer’s independence and choice in aged care, and provide a benchmark for consumer driven, competitive and innovative sector.

This submission highlights areas that we believe require further revision and outlines additional details that OTA believe will further strengthen the Quality Standards and support consistency in their adoption.

Download here

Occupational Therapy Australia lodged a submission to The Department of Health and Aged Care (the Department) on the new National Dementia Action Plan (NDAP).

OTA highlighted that the current dementia care system is fragmented, with no clear pathways between diagnosis and treatment and no collaboration between services. There is also a lack of rehabilitation services for people with dementia, and support for carers of people with dementia.

OTA acknowledged that the Department is aware of these shortcomings and emphasised the role of OTs working with people with dementia and their carers in enabling them to participate in the activities that are necessary and meaningful to them.

OTA also offered to work with the department in increasing the rehabilitation services for people with Dementia.

Download here

Occupational Therapy Australia lodged a submission to The Department of Health and Aged Care on the new model for regulating aged care.

OTA acknowledges that reforms around aged care regulation are necessary to provide a rights based and person centered aged care system that keeps older Australians safe. A worker registration scheme is a necessary part of this proposed regulation.

However, the worker registration scheme should not become an unnecessary burden on health professionals such as occupational therapists that already have comprehensive regulatory requirements.

Moreover, the transition to a new regulation system must be efficient and transparent and use consistent approaches to information sharing. This would support all care
providers, including occupational therapists, to support optimal clinical outcomes and will assist with regulatory compliance.

Download here

Occupational Therapy Australia (OTA) provided a submission to the Department of Health on the proposal for a new consumer-driven competitive and innovative system for Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs).  

The previous Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) meant facilities had to apply to add new beds. By discontinuing ACAR there will be an increase in supply of beds and places will be assigned directly to the people looking for residential care. The Government's policy assumes that increasing the supply would increase consumer choice and provider competition. However, this submission used similarities between the Aged Care Quality Standards and occupational therapy practice to argue that true choice and competition would be brought about by providing occupational therapy services in RACFs.  

OTA's submission highlights the parallels between Quality Standards and occupational therapy supports, and makes the case that every RACF should be required and incentivised to engage the services of a multidisciplinary health team, including occupational therapists, to guarantee the maintenance of the Quality Standards. 

Download here

Occupational therapy services are fundamental to any Support at Home program as they enable independence, prevent functional decline, increase quality of life and reduce care needs. Occupational therapy is key to enabling older Australians to remain at home longer.

Occupational therapists work with older people with age-related conditions such as poor balance and coordination, memory loss and confusion, and vision and hearing loss, which lead to changes in their ability to participate in the meaningful activities of everyday life. Occupational therapists provide services such as physical and mental health therapy, vocational rehabilitation, chronic disease management, assessments for assistive technology and assessment of environment and safety risks including home modifications.

Download here

OTA used this submission to highlight the benefits of occupational therapy in providing non pharmaceutical approaches to managing several of the proposed QI in residential care.  

The Quality Indicators (QI) for residential care will be included in the star rating system, so providers will want to demonstrate high performance in the QI. There was already a quality indicator system for residential care, but this consultation was around expanding it to include several other areas of care including depression, medications, pain and behavioural symptoms.  

This submission demonstrates how occupational therapists can improve the quality of care across the new areas proposed by the consultation. In particular, it described the benefits of occupational therapy in providing non-pharmaceutical approaches to managing depression, pain and behavioural symptoms.  

Download here

OTA used this submission to position occupational therapists as professionals who can provide quality care to people in their own homes without infringing on their independence.  

This consultation proposed a new Quality Indicator (QI) system for home care like the one in residential facilities. It positioned providers to have a level of influence over the general health of an older person including any weight loss, malnutrition and dehydration; falls; and pressure injuries. 

This was controversial amongst older people and providers. Home care providers may have only a very limited role in assisting an older person, and older people value their independence.  

However, OTA demonstrated that occupational therapists are highly skilled at providing high quality care to participants in their homes while still enabling participants to maintain their independence and make decisions about their care. 

Download here

OTA took this opportunity to advocate for a variety of best practice designs for residential aged care using the occupational therapy principles of community involvement and independence.  

The Australian Government took consultations in the process of drafting a Design Framework for Residential Aged Care. OTA recommended the use of a tiered system that had dementia friendly design as a mandatory minimum, with the platinum standard being co-located design and small housing environments. In this way, the designs that truly connected people to the communities inside and outside the facility would be rewarded.  

Other design ideas OTA recommended were design that enables continued engagement in activities of interest, dementia friendly design, and design that supports diverse cultures and identities.  

Download here

 

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