Department unveils plans for expanded aged care gateway

Aged care’s new one stop shop, My Aged Care, is ramping up its capabilities with two demonstration regions trialling end-to-end systems in Queensland and Victoria due to go live from January 2015, and introduced nationally by the end of the year.

 

By Natasha Egan and Linda Belardi.

Aged care’s new one stop shop, My Aged Care, is ramping up its capabilities with two demonstration regions trialling end-to-end systems in Queensland and Victoria due to go live from January 2015, and introduced nationally by the end of the year.

The Department of Social Services has been showcasing the current mock-up of My Aged Care in roadshows across the country and is seeking feedback from industry stakeholders as it moves to finalise design. Australian Ageing Agenda attended the Sydney session on Wednesday.

Currently, My Aged Care functions as a website and hotline, providing users with information about Commonwealth approved providers in their area. From January next year, the enhanced My Aged Care system will be used in two demonstration regions to trial the client record, telephone screening, standardised face-to-face assessment by regional assessment organisations, and service matching and referral functions.

Standardised assessment for entry into the Commonwealth Home Support program will be rolled out nationally from July 2015 and Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs) will also start assessments using the My Aged Care system during the second half of 2015.

The department has commenced work on introducing a business-to-government interface, which will give aged care providers access to the system and support the electronic exchange of information through a web-based portal. Access portals for clients and carers will also be added in the future.

While design and development is still underway, the proof of concept, which AAA sighted at Wednesday’s roadshow, has provided a snapshot of what My Aged Care will look like as early as next year.

Screening and assessment

Central to the future system is the client record, which will minimise the need for a person to re-tell their story and eventually attach to a person’s national e-health record. Clients can enter the system by contacting the contact centre directly or through third party referrals.

From next year, trained contact centre staff will provide telephone screening, but the function will be done in person where appropriate, such as due to cultural or language considerations. It is not expected that everyone will come through the contact centre and other entities, such as hospitals, will be authorised to register and screen clients. The screening process will produce an action plan that could include a referral to an assessor or direct referral to services.

Industry consultation since July 2013 has resulted in a stronger focus on goal setting and reablement in the My Aged Care assessment process. The assessment tools, which are still being developed, will provide a nationally consistent approach across all aged care services, which is currently true for ACAT assessments but not for HACC services.

Face-to-face assessment will be carried out by home support assessors for services under the forthcoming Commonwealth Home Support Program and comprehensive assessors for services provided under the Aged Care Act.

Matching and referrals

Following screening and/or assessment, clients will be matched and referred to Commonwealth funded services based on assessed need and client preference. Referrals will be either client-driven or sent to providers electronically based on client preferences or broadcast to all available services where a client has no preference.

Currently, My Aged Care finders are limited to approved providers of Commonwealth subsidised services. The department is currently considering whether to expand this feature to include non-approved providers.

Macro planning and service availability

Through the My Aged Care system, the department will also have access to detailed information about the level of unmet need for aged care services across the country, which could inform future program and policy planning.

Access to this level of information will be warmly welcomed by consumer lobbies who regard this as a critical first step in planning for and convincing the Commonwealth Government to move to an uncapped aged care system.

While acknowledging that a wait list management function should exist, the department is currently seeking sector views on how it should operate within My Aged Care and whether service availability information should also be included. Currently, aged care providers are responsible for managing their own service waiting lists.

In South Australia, providers currently access a web-based portal to update information on service availability using a ‘traffic light’ system.

Service providers are being encouraged to give feedback on the design of My Aged Care to the department via GPO@health.gov.au.

Tags: dss, LLLB reforms, my-aged-care,

2 thoughts on “Department unveils plans for expanded aged care gateway

  1. I think the theory behind “My Aged Care” is fantastic. The online space is a minefield for older Australians and their families to navigate. To find fair, reasonable and comprehensive information about all the available options is near on impossible at the moment.

    However while I commend the initiative is am absolutely astounded that the Government could consider a “one stop shop” that ignores the non Government Funded sector. Clearly private providers like Prestige are playing an enormous part in keeping people independent in their own homes.

    For the department to state that they are “currently considering whether to expand the finders feature to include non-approved providers.” is absurd.

    People coming to the site to review all their options and make an informed decision obviously need to be aware of all the options at their disposal.

    Private care is not the best solution for everyone but neither is department funded care. There are thousands of Australians accessing private home support services and it is foolish to embark on a project as grand as My Aged Care and ignore this extremely important section of the industry.

    Nick McDonald
    CEO
    Prestige Inhome Care

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