BEC’s solution to how you can afford and find physios and allied health in aged care

Affordable access to allied health professionals has worsened in the lead-up to aged care reforms starting 1 October.

Affordable access to allied health professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists has traditionally been limited but has worsened in the lead-up to aged care reforms starting 1 October.

Allied health workforce shortages have been a long-standing issue. The Australian Physiotherapy Council estimated that there was a shortage of 6,000 physios in 2019 even before the COVID pandemic, which worsened the shortage.

In residential aged care, allied health minutes have been in steep decline since 2020 as this graphic shows.

This trend looks likely to continue. A Senate Community Affairs committee on 25 July heard evidence that 5,000 physio jobs will be lost in nursing homes. The Department of Health and Quality and Safety Commissioner also stated in these hearings that providers who had anywhere near this loss of physio job levels or other allied health would be in trouble with the regulator.

Similar allied health shortages exist in community care. The royal commission found that an average resident at home only received five total visits of allied health per year. Yet physiotherapy and occupational therapy are some of the most needed and requested services for clients wanting to be able to stay in their home.

So, providers are stuck between a rock and a hard place:

  • what allied health they can afford and find versus residents and regulators expect to be provided
  • avoiding risk to boards and executives, and brand damage if they can’t find or can’t afford to provide allied health so use unqualified staff, and are then held liable for a failure of duty of care when an older resident has falls, fractures, hospitilisations and death that could be attributable to not having physio and allied health (physio alone reduces falls 55 per cent the Senate heard in evidence).

It is very hard to entice physio and allied health into aged care in the first place, and Covid, job losses, and difficulty competing with private practice and NDIS remuneration has made finding and retaining allied health in aged care very difficult.

There is a third solution though for providers who want to have their residents being able to access allied health after the 1 October aged care reforms. And the name of the solution is BEC.

AAC Health group’s unique Better Elder Care is an innovative, evidence-based solution to provide affordable physio and allied health in regional nursing homes and community care in a simple cost per resident per day that can be partly or fully funded by existing funding sources or residents rather than providers. On average this is one-third of previous allied health spend.

Why is this model called Bec as if it’s a real person, not just an allied health package? Because it’s not just another allied health service. AAC’s Better Elder Care is unique and one of a kind, the first in the industry to develop this solution.

And like Better Elder Care is different to other allied health models/services you might have seen, BEC is unique because it is based on a real person – Becky!

Bec’s name was changed but she’s a real client of AAC Health Group we saw for years in a regional nursing home. Bec has now passed on, but she and her smile after having allied health live on in our memories and we thought it was a fitting tribute to her.

Better Elder Care is a result of seven years of research from AAC Health Group, a regional allied health provider based in Queensland but now offering services nationally. The BEC model was submitted at the Senate recently and was not ruled out as an alternative allied health model.

In fact, its basis was praised as avoiding spend on services a client doesn’t need, or an alternative allied health could provide more cheaply. It is the only realistic way that has been discussed after 1 October for:

  • nursing homes wanting to keep their allied health professionals and meet the eight minutes per a resident per a day expectation of the Department of Health and Aged Care in an affordable and practical way for them and their residents. BEC comes at an average one-third of previous allied health spend for nursing homes in a simple cost per resident per day that providers can pass on in part or full to their clients, at significantly less cost than ad-hoc and case-by-case referrals
  • community providers wanting to offer physio, OT onsite consistently in regional and remote areas in their homes in an affordable way using current funding options.

Want to learn more about BEC and how this could work in for you and your residents? Contact privatepractice@aachealthgroup.com.au or call 1300 574 462, and read about more at www.aachealthgroup.com.au/bec-menu.