Providers are still divided about strategies to adopt the mandatory Care Minute requirements.
We believe that Resident care and outcomes should always be the priority in this area, and that ensuring you are well-funded for the care you need to deliver is the foundation of being able to do this. The Government have been very clear in saying this is the approach they fully support “A failure to meet Care Minute targets will not be viewed in isolation, but as a source of intelligence that helps us build a picture of risk.” and “We expect providers have a plan to manage the root cause of not meeting their Care Minute obligations, that will enable them to eventually meet the required targets.” (Source: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/webinars/mandatory-care-minutes). We, and the Government, are under no delusion about the complexity of attracting a skilled workforce in the current climate, and an agency solution to meet the requirements is certainly not sustainable. On the surface – we are seeing that regulatory action will not be taken on Care Minutes alone, so long as you are compliant in other areas and have a workforce strategy in place to work towards meeting the requirements.
But let’s explore – is keeping your AN-ACC funding low, in-order to keep Care Minutes low, a good strategy?
Why we don’t think you should.
The idea of keeping AN-ACC low to avoid increasing Care Minutes might seem tempting, however, it’s essential to consider the broader implications and the long-term strategy for your facility. While Care Minutes are undeniably central to the reforms – and a large part of what we do is helping Providers in aligning and developing their Workforce & Clinical strategies to work towards balancing their funding and Care Minute strategies and meeting the requirements of the reforms – it’s surprising to see the requirements steering financial viability strategies in some Aged Care Organisations; especially during this period where the Government is supportive of the challenges and necessary timelines and promising to work with us and not come down on us. Some Providers are opting to forego additional funding, choosing not to reclassify, or even attempt to reclassify downwards for care they’re most likely already delivering perhaps through a different model of care to the activities recognised under the Mandatory Care Minute reporting – often driven by the difficulty of attracting skilled resources in the sector.
The hesitation is most often grounded in concerns over:
- Star ratings
- Unannounced visits
- Cost considerations of the dramatic change and short-term measures required to meet the requirements immediately.
Especially in this period where the Government has expressed understanding toward the challenges Providers face in workforce attraction and retention. While it is not 100% known how the Department will handle compliance action around these changes, their messaging on the topic has been consistent throughout the last few years. This was again reiterated in the fact again that ACQSC is unlikely to consider escalated compliance action where a Provider makes genuine ongoing effort to fulfil this responsibility.
It was, however, reiterated that they will definitely issue escalated action if high prevalence and high impact risk is not effectively managed, which is a significantly higher risk if underfunded.
You can view these slides here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/webinars/mandatory-care-minutes. Slides 19 – 24 layout the “overall regulatory approach”.
ACQSC’s approach prioritises genuine effort to move towards compliance and safe care delivery – so are Providers prioritising the right things?
What PA believes.
At our core – we put Resident care and outcomes first. We don’t believe they need to be sacrificed in exchange for operational and sustainable business performance, they go hand-in-hand. Those who’ve worked with us know all our solutions are built on better Resident care, outcomes and experience. Even the way we “do funding” – the focus is on assessment & care planning as a vehicle to improve experience, outcomes, compliance and of course funding.
We believe in order to make a genuine effort to move towards compliance, improved Resident experience and a workforce strategy that is capable of meeting the Care Minute requirements (the things the Department expects to see from Providers), Organisations need to be financially viable and be able to invest in these things and to meet the ASIC requirements. Limiting access to financial resources, will limit your ability in the long term:
- to implement changes needed to remain compliant in other areas
- to be able to offer a well-run work environment & culture that attracts new staff and retains existing
- to be competitive in a really tight labour market
- to be able to deliver the standard of personalised care the commission intended to facilitate through these reforms.
It’s hard to hear some Providers taking dramatic action in order to be able to consistently meet these targets at the expense of long-term initiatives. Instead, we believe, sustainable financial viability strategies will lead to being able to work towards solving the issues causing Care Minute shortages – while addressing all the things the Department have said they need to see.
Are Facilities under-claiming AN-ACC?
We can categorically say – yes, they are. From the 100s of AN-ACC Funding Health Checks we’ve completed we are seeing that Facilities are conservatively missing on average $369K. We say conservatively as these are just clinical documentation audits, just the very first step in what we do, and only picking up on documented care that is already being delivered – unfunded care.
Missed funding might happen when assessments are incongruent, are not written well for the AN-ACC tool, an increase is not identified or a bad outcome isn’t recognised and no reconsideration put in – or of course, an Organisation isn’t prioritising reclassifications.
Of course – where there is missed funding, there is also a Care Minute shortage – thus the basis of this debate. You can’t have one without the other.
Being funded appropriately for the care you need to deliver is the only way that you will be able to make the changes necessary to meet all the obligations.
Consequences of underfunding
AN-ACC funding serves as a crucial resource for providing high-quality care and maintaining compliance within the aged care sector. Opting to intentionally keep your AN-ACC funding low in order to avoid Care Minute increases could lead to several unintended consequences:
- Quality of Care: Adequate funding enables you to offer better care to your Residents. Low funding could result in insufficient resources, compromising the quality of care you provide, and potentially leading to negative outcomes for your Residents and compliance.
- Compliance: Inadequate funding will mean it’s much harder to invest in the systems and skilled resources needed in order to meet these requirements.
- Workforce Challenges: Low funding can hinder your ability to attract and retain skilled staff members. Inadequate resources might lead to staff burnout, high turnover rates, and an inability to meet care needs effectively.
- Star Ratings: Striking a balance between funding and Care Minutes is crucial for maintaining positive star ratings. Low AN-ACC funding might impact your ability to provide the level of care needed to achieve higher star ratings, which can influence public perception and Resident attraction.
- Long-Term Sustainability: Aged Care is a dynamic and evolving field. Prioritising funding and Care Minutes today can set your Facility on a path of long-term sustainability. Neglecting either element could lead to challenges in the future.
- Resident Satisfaction: Adequate funding directly impacts the quality of life and satisfaction of your Residents. High-quality care enhances the overall experience of Residents and their families.
We believe that ensuring financial viability is the first step towards meeting all these requirements, enhancing resident experience, compliance, start ratings and a workforce strategy that has any hope of attracting and retaining the resources long term to meet the Care Minute requirements.