Since 1 July My Aged Care Regional Assessment Services (RAS) have been conducting face-to-face assessments of clients for entry into the new integrated Commonwealth Home Support Program, and last week a forum heard from one of the 13 RAS contractors about the experience of going live.
Catholic Healthcare’s manager of aged care assessment services Jessica Innes told the Aged and Community Services NSW-ACT event on CHSP that some 1,000 home support assessors had been recruited across Australia to conduct independent assessments and it was largely a mobile workforce, supported by technology.
She said a significant number of the staff previously employed under the former Home and Community Care (HACC) program in assessment, case management and client care coordination services had come across to the RAS, which enabled that skilled workforce to be retained in the sector.
Ms Innes told the Sydney forum that many RAS assessors had qualifications in allied health and case management, while others had experience in the home care packages program, Aged Care Assessment Teams, CALD and migrant refugee services and in hoarding and squalor services.
Bilingual assessors and interpreting services have also assisted clients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and the RAS were working to match the cultural and linguistic skills of assessors with the client populations in their regions.
“As we continue to network with the other RAS, we will learn what the collective workforce is of the regional assessment services and how we can start to utilise different qualifications, skills and expertise across each of the regions,” she said.
The role of assessors
Ms Innes said the role of home support assessors was to complete a face-to-face assessment using the National Screening and Assessment Form via the My Aged Care portal, develop a support plan with the client, and match and refer clients to appropriate services (both government-funded and non-government funded). “The primary goal of that support plan is a restorative approach and is focused on the person and their choices,” she said. RAS can also provide a short-term case management role – around one to two weeks.
Ms Innes said an app developed by the Department of Social Services had helped to increase the efficiency of the screening and assessment process undertaken by the RAS assessors.
In terms of key performance indicators, Ms Innes said the timeframes for completing assessments were 10 days for a high priority referral, 14 days for a medium priority and 21 days for a low priority client.
She said the development of strong networks between the RAS and service providers within a particular region will support the appropriate referral of clients.
RAS providers have had to demonstrate how they will continue to manage potential conflicts of interest as many hold dual roles as a service provider and a RAS contractor, said Ms Innes.
Transition to My Aged Care system
During last Thursday’s forum, smaller service providers expressed concern over their ability to receive and accept broadcast referrals through the My Aged Care system compared with higher resourced providers.
A lack of clarity regarding when a CHSP provider should refer an existing client to My Aged Care was also highlighted as a contributing factor to the current high volume of calls to the My Aged Care contact centre, which the department said it would continue to monitor.
Teething issues with the new system have also meant that some providers have reported receiving referrals to deliver services out of area and for service types they do not deliver.
Update on My Aged Care
- Between 1- 27 July 2015, the My Aged Care contact centre handled over 75,000 calls and correspondence, which included 58, 000 calls (83 per cent to consumer line and 17 per cent to My Aged Care provider and assessor hotline).
- 2,500 referrals were made for comprehensive assessment
- 4,180 referrals were made for home support assessment
- Caller volume has far exceeded forecasts.
Source: HealthDirect Australia
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