Concerns over ACAT reassessments

More than 2,500 residents were reassessed at a new ACAT level between March and December last year.

The opposition has expressed concern about the effectiveness and consistency of Aged Care Assessment Teams (ACATs).

Between 20 March and 17 December last year, 3,880 of the 46,975 people admitted to residential aged care were reassessed by an ACAT team following admission to residential aged care.

Almost 2,500 – or five per cent of total admissions – went from a low care ACAT assessment to a high care assessment.

In the same period, 32 residents went from a high care ACAT assessment to a low care assessment.

The remaining 1,346 residents who were reassessed had no change in their ACAT statement.

The opposition’s ageing spokesperson, Margaret May admitted that the needs of some residents had probably increased but said the sheer number of changes was concerning.

“It’s very hard to tell what the reason behind all the reassessments is but it is certain that there is something that is not adding up,” she said.

“It seems that there would have to be something wrong with the system to have so many reassessments done.”

According to Geoff Taylor, the CEO of West Australian provider Aegis, the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) is partly to blame.

Recently he told the Senate inquiry into aged care that the ACFI has created a grey area between low and high care.

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda he reiterated this concern.

“Under the old [RCS], there were four high care and four low care categories and it was generally pretty easy to work out where a person fitted,” he said.

“But the ACFI has 64 categories and only 12 of them are low care. The remaining 52 are high care and a lot of those meld into the low care system.”

Mr Taylor said providers miss out on care subsidies when a resident is assessed by an ACAT as having low care needs but is classified as high care by the ACFI.

“The funding they get is capped at a certain level if they have a low care ACAT assessment, even if the ACFI might say that they require more funding,” he said.

“And the government doesn’t back-date the funding if a person is reassessed.”

“They are penalising residents or facilities when ACATs get the assessment wrong but there is very little chance of getting it right when a resident falls into the grey area.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Ageing said: “Ensuring that older Australians can access the services they need is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and planning and the Department of Health and Ageing welcomes ideas on ways to improve how aged care services are delivered.”

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