Call for independent assessors for new classification scheme

The Australian Government is seeking providers for a new aged care classification scheme to independently assess 300,000 aged care residents from next year, as part of its planned overhaul of the $21 billion sector.

The Australian National Aged Care Classification, developed by the Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) and University of Wollongong with clinical experts, features a provider funding model, care recipient classification mode and assessment scheme.

It separates decision-making and assessments from the care provider, focusing on core elements that are driving costs in residential aged care: palliative care; mobility, function and frailty; cognition, communication and behaviour; wound risk; and technical nursing.

The call for tenders follows a trial of the national classification system involving 122 homes this year that found the new model was effective and cheaper than the existing scheme.

Tender documents seen by Inside Ageing said the Australian Government was committed to implementing the new classification and assessment scheme by next March.

“Independent assessors employed by one or more contracted assessment management organisations will use the AN-ACC assessment tool to complete up to 300,000 assessments of the functional capacities of residential aged care recipients in aged care homes during the period 1 March 2021 to 28 February 2022 (with possibility of extension of time to complete to 30 June 2022 if necessary),” the document said.

Detail within the documents however, highlighted that the government “has not yet decided to implement the funding element of the model”.

The providers would be required to recruit nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, liaise with aged care providers for scheduling and develop a clinical framework for the assessments.

A report from the trial of the national scheme, released publicly last week {Oct 7}, found each assessment took one hour and an independent assessment workforce was “readily available to undertake AN-ACC assessments”.

“The trial demonstrated that the AN-ACC assessment model is fit-for-purpose, nationally scalable and costs less of a per-assessment basis than was anticipated,” the review said.

The classification system will group aged Australians into 13 classes, based around their mobility, cognitive ability and function, as well as compounding factors.

There is also a category for the most critical people, who are to be admitted for palliative care.

The government said under the complete AN-ACC scheme, developed in conjunction with clinical experts, represents a “significant change for the residential aged care sector”.

There would be funding according to individual residents’ needs, including the introduction of fixed and variable funding elements.

If taken up, funding would also be granted for incentives for reablement and restorative care.

“The Australian Government is committed to reforming residential aged care funding to better align funding with regular independent measurements of the actual costs of caring for recipients of residential aged care,” the tender documents said.

“The Australian Government is the principle funder of aged care, having provided estimated funding of $21.5 billion in 2019-20, of which the majority was spent on residential aged care. AustralianGovernment spending on aged care will continue to grow over future years and is expected to reach $25.4 billion in 2022-23.”

Funding of more than $91 million over two years was announced in the Budget to reform residential aged care funding, including the assessment program,

The tender is being facilitated by AusTender and closes November 13 – Details can be viewed here


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