The Department of Health has engaged aged care benchmarking firm StewartBrown to assist providers meet new reporting requirements.

The health department hosted a webinar for providers on Wednesday to go through the strengthened prudential reporting and additional reporting requirements introduced in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s recommendations.

They include changes to the reporting requirements for the annual Aged Care Financial Report, due on 31 October.

Residential aged care providers who have signed an undertaking for the 2021 Basic Daily Fee Supplement must also report quarterly on food and nutrition expenditure and the quality of daily living services, with the first report due on 21 October.

Jess Evans, assistant secretary, structural adjustment operations branch at the Department of Health, told aged care providers to contact StewartBrown if they needed in needed help completing the reports.

“We’ve engaged StewartBrown, who has been contracted to provide some technical help desk support to providers as they’re completing their ACFR,” Ms Evans told the Aged Care Funding Reform webinar on Wednesday.

Jess Evans at the Aged Care Funding Reform webinar

Major changes to the ACFR include detailed residential segment income and expense statement at the facility level, enhanced approved provider reporting, consolidated parent level segment report and permitted uses reconciliation.

Providers can also contact the StewartBrown for help with the reporting tied to the $10 basic daily fee supplement, said Josh Maldon, acting assistant secretary, choice and transparency at the Department of Health.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the service will provide independent confidential helpdesk support to providers.

“The helpdesk service supports questions from the sector on Aged Care Funding Reform and the basic daily fee,” the spokesperson told Australian Ageing Agenda.

It will also respond “to emailed queries from the sector in line with agreed explanatory notes from the department,” the spokesperson said.

There are currently 847 aged care providers who are receiving the basic daily fee supplement, Mr Maldon said.

Payments will be suspended if the report is not received by the due date until the report is submitted, the webinar heard.

There is no option available for back-payment.

Reporting increases transparency

Amy Laffan at the Aged Care Funding Reform webinar

Department of Health first assistant secretary, quality and assurance division Amy Laffan said the increased reporting requirements aimed to ensure aged care providers’ financial performance was more transparent and accountable.

“This will benefit the care of and increase choice for senior Australians and improve the capability, financial sustainability and resilience of aged care providers,” Ms Laffan told the webinar.

“We understand that it increases reporting burden, but government has given a further $17.7 billion to the aged care industry and I think it’s fair to the government and taxpayers that we expect some sort of accountability and transparency to come from that,” she said.

Ms Laffan said the additional information can better inform senior Australians about which aged care provider they go to.

“It also helps the services themselves. It helps in your sustainability and resilience,” she said.

For help with the Aged Care Financial Report email [email protected] and [email protected] for assistance with basic daily fee reporting.

The Aged Care Funding Reform webinar took place on 13 October.

This story has been updated to include comments from the Department of Health.

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