MND Week 2-8 May 2021

This week is MND week and Reliant would like to help raise awareness of motor neurone disease (this video provides some info if you’d like to know more), highlight the importance of advocacy and best-practice care, and promote the need for continued research to end MNDMND touches many of our clients’ lives, and this week we are:

  • Donating to the ‘MND Walk to D Feet‘ event being held in the Hunter on behalf of our staff. If you are able, we encourage you to do the same or even better, register to participate (there are events throughout the year)!
  • Writing to relevant Ministers and Shadow Ministers requesting fast-track access to Level 3 and 4 Aged Home Care Packages for older Australians with MND.

If you have any questions about MND or know somebody who would like assistance, we’d be delighted to help.

 

Final Report – Aged Care Quality & Safety Royal Commission

Yesterday, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety handed its report to the Australian Government (a summary is available here). While many of the criticisms and recommendations of the report (the report has 148 recommendations in total) are focused on residential care, we have received with great interest those parts of the report specifically focused on home care. Interestingly, both Commissioners found that the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission had not demonstrated strong and effective regulation. At Reliant we hold ourselves to the highest standards, and as such we have voluntarily submitted ourselves to assessment by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards. This body has fully accredited us until 2024 in recognition of our desire to meet and exceed best practice.

Below please find an article excerpt from Stephen Duckett, Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute and Anika Stobart, Associate, Grattan Institute published on The Conversation which succinctly outlines 4 key takeaways from the report.

4 key takeaways from the aged care royal commission’s final report

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Stephen Duckett, Grattan Institute and Anika Stobart, Grattan Institute

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report into aged care has laid out an extensive plan to overhaul Australia’s aged-care system.

Among the 148 recommendations, the report calls for a new system underpinned by a rights-based Act, funding based on need, and much stronger regulation and transparency.

Over two years, through more than 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses, the two commissioners heard extensive evidence of a system in crisis. Australians might have expected the commissioners to provide one streamlined blueprint for reform.

But the commissioners diverged on a number of large and some smaller recommendations. This makes the already complex path to reform even more confusing. It reduces the power of the final report. More disappointingly, it gives the government room to pick and choose recommendations as the cabinet likes.

Nonetheless, if the major recommendations are adopted, Australia will get a transformed aged care system over the next five years.

Here are our top four takeaways from this landmark report.

1. Australia needs a rights-based aged-care system

In its recommendations, the final report highlights Australia needs a new Aged Care Act to underpin reform. The new Act should set out the rights of older people, including their entitlement to care and support based on their needs and preferences.

This would be a significant shift away from the current ration-based system, and would bring aged care more in line with the principles of Medicare.

Practically, this would mean the number of people in the system would no longer be capped — the long waiting lists for care would disappear over time. The current aged-care programs, such as home-care packages and residential care, would be replaced by a single program.

Under this new program, all older Australians in need of support would be independently assessed, and allocated care according to their personal needs and preferences — whether at home or in residential care.

This is a huge step forward, and, with the right support, would enable older Australians more choice and control over their care.

2. The system needs stronger governance

Ineffective governance and weak regulation of aged care must end. The final report calls for much stronger governance, regulation of the quality of care, prudential regulation, and an independent mechanism to set prices.

These changes would ensure the “quasi-market” aged-care system, as commissioner Tony Pagone described it, was much better regulated, holding providers to a higher standard of care, and better able to address any service gaps in the system. We might see the introduction of home care in locations where home-care services were not previously available, for example.

This change would require all aged-care providers to be accredited against the new standards. We hope that process would weed out some of the poorest performers in the sector. The new system would have offices across the country, to provide on-the-ground support to older Australians and providers.

Unfortunately, the commissioners diverged on the exact mechanisms for these changes. Pagone wants an independent commission to be responsible for aged care, at arms-length from the health department. Meanwhile, commissioner Lynelle Briggs wants governance to remain with a reformed department, but with quality regulation managed by an independent quality commission.

Given the department’s poor track record on managing aged care, we need to see a major change of culture. We urge the government to accept commissioner Pagone’s recommendation.

3. We need to improve workforce conditions and capability

The final report makes numerous important recommendations to enhance the capability and work conditions of formal carers. It calls for better wages and a new national registration scheme for all personal care workers, who would be required to have a minimum Certificate III training.

Residential care facilities would need to ensure minimum staff time with residents. By July 1 2022, this would be at least 200 minutes per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 40 minutes of that time with a registered nurse.

The facilities would be required to report staffing hours provided each day, specifying the breakdown of residents’ time with personal care workers versus nursing staff.

While these measures are good, they are the bare minimum, and would only give facilities a minimum 2 or 3 star rating. But coupled with recommendations for stronger transparency, including the publication of star ratings and quality indicators to compare provider performance, providers might be incentivised to go above this minimum standard.

4. A better system will cost more

The final report makes a series of complex recommendations about fees and funding, with the commissioners diverging in view as to the specific arrangements. But essentially, the proposed new funding model would provide universal funding for care services, such as nursing.

This means there would be no requirement for aged-care recipients to pay a co-contribution, like public patients in public hospitals. Instead, the expectation is people pay for their ordinary costs of living, such as cleaning, subject to a means test and up to a maximum amount in residential care.

A carer holds the hand of an elderly person.
A rights-based system means funding is determined by each individual’s needs.
Shutterstock

These changes would coincide with the phase-out of the burdensome refundable accommodation deposits, which some residents currently pay as a lump sum to providers when they enter residential care. This approach is a shift away from the current muddled set of means-tested arrangements, and may help offset some of the additional spending needed to pay for a rights-based system.

Unfortunately, the report does not touch on how much the recommended changes would cost. Australia should be prepared to pay the price of a better aged care system.

The government has been underspending on aged care. Most Australians agree the government should provide more funding for aged care. Commissioner Briggs has the more persuasive proposal for funding the new system. She wants the government to introduce legislation by July 1 2022 that establishes an aged-care improvement levy of 1% of taxable personal income.

Commissioner Pagone is weaker on this point. He wants the Productivity Commission to investigate the establishment of an hypothecated aged-care levy (meaning the money raised by the levy can only be spent on aged care).

Either approach will be politically difficult, but Australians should demand their government lock-in a secure funding supply. That will help produce an aged-care system that protects the rights, upholds the dignity, and celebrates the contribution of all older Australians.The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

We Won Gold at the 2019 LGBTI Inclusion Awards!

Last week we received the great news that Reliant has received the Gold Service Provider Award for the Health and Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI) at the 2019 Australian LGBTI Inclusion Awards. This award is the national benchmark for LGBTI inclusive service provision in Australia. We are committed to continuously improving our knowledge of and service to the LGBTI community. We are very proud to have received this award and we will continue to strive to maintain an inclusive and safe environment for our clients. Congratulations to all our team!

Reliant achieved Gold status in the 2019 Health + Wellbeing Equality Index.

Why we are hopeful about the Aged Care Royal Commission

We are being asked for our thoughts constantly on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which begins hearing evidence this week in Adelaide. People are surprised when we tell them we are not only thrilled that some of the issues to be examined by the Commission have finally come to the fore, but we are excited that the findings of the Royal Commission will no doubt impose more carefully policed reporting and other obligations on health and aged care providers and result in increased scrutiny – as it should be. More importantly though, this Royal Commission should result in some constructive recommendations to providers based on the submissions made by organisations like ours who pride themselves on safe, innovative and inclusive service delivery.

At Reliant, we enjoyed the process of putting our response together. With a clean track record and a true commitment to safe, quality and consumer-directed care, we were able to reflect and feel proud of the way we do business and look after our valued clients. Providing a response has also allowed us to make some suggestions, based on experiences we have had in dealing with other organisations where we have seen examples of substandard care.

We are thrilled at the positive emphasis of the Royal Commission – actively seeking suggestions for change and improvement across the industry and asking providers to self-reflect and provide information on what they could have done better in the past and what they may need assistance with for the future to ensure they do not let down older Australians, a generally underrepresented and undervalued community.

No doubt there will be shocking revelations as the Commission takes evidence in the coming  months. The important thing to remember is that solid and reliable providers are out there, and hopefully the standard of care across the board will improve so that everyone can have experiences like those of our clients.

The Royal Commission is accepting public submissions, which can be submitted anonymously. We would encourage anyone who feels they can make a valuable contribution to consider making a submission. There is a link here, or please feel free to get in touch with us if we can help in any way.

A National Plan

At Reliant we see our role as central in ensuring that our elders live their best lives – with dignity and independence.

This week we were honoured to attend the 5th National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney, along with leaders from government, academia, law, healthcare leaders and trailblazers. Although only the 5th time this conference has been held, attendance reached over 560 delegates and it is heartening that elder abuse in Australian society is increasingly gaining mainstream attention.

Also significant was that at the conference the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Christian Porter MP announced Australia’s first National Plan to address elder abuse (which was a key recommendation of the 2017 Australian Law Reform Commission Report Elder Abuse – a National Legal Response). Stimulating discussion and presentations from a range of speakers, from Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG to Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP made for a very thought-provoking 2-day conference. Our sincere thanks to the Seniors Rights Service for such a fantastic event.

We were proud to play a role in developing the final conference statement, an extract of which you can read below.

“Our call to action to all governments in Australia: there is no excuse not to act nationally NOW against Elder Abuse.

Come together to create and fully resource the strong, effective, nationally consistent and accountable change needed to:

  • Create respectful cultures that value older people within our diverse country and communities (a whole of community shift) to prevent an epidemic of abuse against older people
  • Deliver early intervention and empower older people
  • Support and safeguard those older persons experiencing abuse.

Involve older people and all the key stakeholders in developing the National Plan to address Elder Abuse to ensure all older people experience dignity, their rights and personal wellbeing as a daily way of life.”

A moment to say thank you…

As a healthcare company that provides workers to help support and care for our clients we would like to take a moment to pay respect and acknowledge the amazing work that the 2.7 million unpaid carers contribute to healthcare. Without carers, people who need support due to illness, disability, mental health, addiction or other problems would be lost.
 
It is due to their dedication and perseverance, which we are sure many of these carers are unaware they possess, that the health of numerous people in our society manages to stay stable.
 
As a company we have been privileged to work alongside and support the amazing contribution of the carer to help our clients engage in a life that that can live. Sometimes our work comes in the shape of well-earned respite, the giving back of the role of family member or to bring some order in an often stressful or unsustainable situation. Before this point, however, it is the pivotal role of the carer that should be noticed and acknowledged.
 
For us then to take a moment during National Carers Week to pay respect and be in awe of the dedication that carers show to their family members or friends is the very least that we can do.
 
As part of National Carers Week there are many activities that are happening throughout NSW. Have a look at the Carers NSW website for activities that may be close to you. 

LGBTI Ageing Health Outcome Strategy

Dr Justin Koonin, Alexandra Conroy, Kathryn Greiner, Auntie Millie Ingram at the launch of ACON's Ageing Health Outcomes Strategy  2017-2021
Dr Justin Koonin, Alexandra Conroy, Kathryn Greiner, Auntie Millie Ingram at the launch of ACON’s Ageing Health Outcomes Strategy 2017-2021

We were very proud to help launch ACON’s new Ageing Health Outcome Strategy 2017-2021 which outlines the health disparities, and needs, of older members of the LGBTI community. We were invited to share our experiences in catering for the needs of our older LGBTI clients. 

The Productivity Commission’s 2011 report, Caring for Older Australians, recommended an emphatic focus on consumer-directed choice in aged care, highlighting the need for the system to be overhauled so it could accommodate not only a significant increase in numbers, but also a more diverse range of seniors with a less homogenous set of requirements. The Ageing Strategy will seek to develop healthy ageing programs, including those to address social isolation, increase uptake of healthy ageing behaviours, and to support self-management skills and capacity for self-advocacy.

Reliant  provides truly consumer directed care and place huge emphasis on enabling people to live their lives as they choose and to facilitate that choice. We are proud of our commitment to encouraging clients to be themselves and of our service to our clients who are members of the LGBTI community.

Dementia: it’s a mindset shift for everyone

September is Dementia Awareness Month, a time to understand a disease that impacts over 413,000 Australians and is projected to reach over 536,000 people by 2025.

While the disease and these statistics can be frightening and worrisome, there are some really important things to consider to make your family’s journey with dementia a lot easier.

As with all relationships, communication is key. But you must be aware that your usual communication methods will need adapting – a shift – when you’re dealing with a loved one who has dementia.

Last week we gained some valuable insights when we heard Steven Sabat, Professor Emeritus, speak at the Dementia Awareness Month presentation at the Art Gallery of NSW. He discussed the cognitive and social abilities of people with moderate to severe dementia – and how communication between people diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers may be enhanced.

Here are some strategies we recommend to alleviate stress and to strengthen your relationship with your loved one, through this new challenge.  (And inspired by the powerful words of the great Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers).

Accentuate the positives

We know actions speak louder than words and this is particularly the case when speaking with people with dementia. Have open, friendly body language – give a reassuring hold of the hand. Often dementia patients can be confused and anxious, but your warmth will help keep them at ease.

If they’ve got information wrong, or have recalled something that didn’t occur – don’t concern yourself with correcting them as this will create more confusion. Play along or change the subject. And if you start to feel a bit frazzled or stressed, take a deep breath, keep calm and carry on.

Eliminate the negatives

TV, radio, or a bustling environment can be incredibly distracting and may make it difficult for you to hold each other’s attention. Be sure to turn background noise off, close a curtain or move to a quiet space so you can focus on one another.

Routine is also very important. Due to the confusing nature of dementia, it’s crucial to maintain a level of regularity in the day to day activities and life of a person with dementia. New environments can be very confusing and even frightening, so try to be aware of this risk factor.

If your loved one appears in distress, don’t ignore this, but do try to move on and find something else to think about. For example you can say “I’m sorry you’re feeling upset – let’s go for a walk in the garden.”

Latch on to the affirmative

If you find an activity that your loved one particularly enjoys, hold onto this, as chances are it will keep working.

Often the best method is highlighting the person’s interests and doing activities based around this. Did they love music? Listen to music! Art galleries? Movies? Visual and audio activities, especially those that bring a sense of nostalgia for the patient can be very comforting.

You may also find going through old photo albums, or talking about stories from their youth can be a helpful topic to get onto – and one where their memories are still vivid. Try to steer clear of asking questions that rely on short-term memory.

Don’t mess with Mr In-Between

Treat all people with common courtesy, have clarity in your communication and don’t put people in a position to fail. Be very direct and don’t ask roundabout questions, otherwise you’ll find yourself on a roundabout that you can’t get off!

By this we mean, try to avoid open-ended questions, or giving too many choices. For example, “Would you like to wear pants or a skirt today?” gives two very clear options. If there is confusion, rephrase your questions and maintain a non-anxious presence.

Try to use people’s names rather than using pronouns like him, her, they – remembering your loved one may have lost track of very recent conversations and being specific will help keep them on course.

With activities, break these down into steps rather than jumping straight into them and remember that visual cues can be very helpful.

Finally, try to maintain a sense of humour – as long as it’s not at your loved one’s expense. Despite their new mindset, they still have their social skills and will love a laugh – so look for the humour and positivity in each moment,  and it will be a better experience for all.

With over 60% of clients with dementia, we understand the challenges but also know there is still so much space for creating special moments and enjoying time with your loved one – it just takes a little bit of patience and practice.

If you, or a loved one is experiencing dementia, Fight Dementia has wonderful resources, fact sheets and suggestions to support you on this unique journey.

https://www.fightdementia.org.au/

 

Pride in Health + Wellbeing

Since day one, our mission at Reliant Healthcare has been to provide the highest standard in human care, not just health care. We are serious about enabling people to really live their best and healthiest lives in the setting of their choosing.

It’s certainly an ambitious goal, but we’re determined.

A task this monumental can only be achieved by working together, and that’s why we are so extremely proud to be a foundation member of Pride in Health + Wellbeing, a program which aims to raise the bar across the board when it comes to LGBTI inclusive health service provision. This is an important foundation which harnesses a group of passionate and empathetic businesses (and people, after all, that’s what we are made of!) focussed on redefining wellness and celebrating diversity in all its glorious forms.

We are all agents for change. At Reliant Healthcare we’re deeply committed to not just health, but overall happiness and believe that diversity, equality and inclusiveness are core pillars of our society. We believe in doing whatever we can, in whatever capacity we can, especially during such a challenging time for the LGBTI community.

Our LGBTI communities and individuals are extremely diverse and face a number of shared and distinct health and social inclusion issues. We also know that when LGBTI individuals require access to health and wellbeing services, they often hit more roadblocks, refrain from accessing critical services, and as a result, experience poorer health and wellbeing outcomes than their non-LGBTI peers. We want to change this.

Working with other industry leaders including Medibank, Lifeline and Flourish we are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of Australian LGBTI communities.

With that in mind, we would also like to share this guide, compiled by ACON, to assist other health services to support LGBTI clients during the protracted debate surrounding marriage equality.

Congratulations to our CEO

Reliant’s CEO, Alexandra Conroy, has been awarded the NSW Young Manager of the Year in the AIM Excellence Awards.

The Young Manager of the Year category recognises the most successful young entrepreneurs and business leaders up to the age of 30. The category acknowledges rising stars and aspiring leaders from business, government and industry and who are making their mark in the industry in which they work.

AIM (Australian Institute of Management) is Australia’s largest membership organisation for managers and leaders. Every year at AIM, 25,000 professionals take part in over 80 training programs and study towards any one of 24 management qualifications in 11 locations around Australia. AIM has provided training to at least half a million people in its 75 year history and is a trusted training partner to over half the companies on the ASX200.

In her acceptance speech, Alexandra said “I’m really pleased that what we do as an organisation as well as the part that I play can be acknowledged in this way.” Alexandra has dedicated her award to her valued staff.

Please click here for more information on the event.