There are important steps providers can take while waiting for the AN-ACC to go live, writes JC Yap.

Shadow assessments under the new Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) have been underway since April 2021.

The visits from external assessors have been a cause of anxiety among some providers fearing a reclassification of funding from the current Aged Care Funding Instrument system.

JC Yap

At this stage, it remains uncertain if a funding loss will occur, with the price per National Weighted Activity Unit (NWAU) yet to be announced.

It has also been made clear that the ACFI will continue to remain in place for now and no changes in fees or funding will result from the shadow assessments.

Furthermore, the assessors conducting the shadow assessments are blinded from the consumer’s AN-ACC classification resulting from their assessments.

Under the new system, assessors complete sets of assessments and enter their findings on the AN-ACC portal. From there, an algorithm calculates and classifies the consumer in any of the 13 levels.

By not knowing the classification outcome, assessors are less likely to be influenced or biased in their approach. However, for providers, there is a lack of transparency on assessment outcomes.

There have been reports of assessors having difficulty seeking information required for the assessments.

Instead, providers should work collaboratively with the Assessment Management Organisations (AMO) to simplify and streamline the assessment process in their respective facilities to enable the assessors to accurately assess the consumers and provide feedback to possibly further refine the tool prior to implementation next year.

To assist the assessors, providers should ensure they have comprehensively reviewed the consumers’ assessments and care plans to ensure they remain reflective of their assessed needs.

In particular, assessments pertaining to mobility and Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are most significant, along with specialised care pathways such as oxygen, chronic wounds, daily injections and so on.  

Information such as how often sheets are changed due to incontinence, weights and the number of falls for each consumer also assist the assessors determine classification levels.

Providers should also allow assessors to have appropriate level access to their documentation system.

These assessors do not assess the facility’s clinical systems and service provision, as it is out of their scope. They merely seek information to assist them complete their assessments for AN-ACC purposes.

Working in partnership with the AMOs will significantly minimise the need for assessors to approach and seek information from staff, subsequently reducing disruption to the daily operations of facilities.

In anticipation of the new model commencing in October 2022, providers can learn from how the shadow assessments have been conducted and should start reviewing their existing documentation processes.

The tools utilised in AN-ACC are not ones that are traditionally used in residential aged care. It would be prudent for organisations to incorporate these new assessments in their existing clinical documentation systems and educate staff to implement these tools correctly.

Although we know providers will no longer be the ones conducting assessments under AN-ACC, having this information available would still be of benefit.

It is without a doubt that the implementation of AN-ACC will change the way we operate. However, with every change comes opportunities.

AN-ACC is expected to reduce the administrative burden of completing assessments and provides consistency on the types of assessments used.

It will shift documentation away from being primarily funding driven, as with ACFI, towards documentation with a re-enablement approach.

Until more information comes to light regarding AN-ACC we can’t have a better understanding of how this will impact our operations.

For now, ACFI should remain in focus with a strategic view on how we adapt when AN-ACC goes live.  

JC Yap is a registered nurse, who specialises in aged care with postgraduate qualifications in clinical nursing and gerontology. He currently works as general manager of funding at Menarock LIFE.

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