Home' Community Care Review : CCR Nov-Dec 2015 Contents Jennene Buckley,
from 585 a week in July to 4,560 a
week at the end of September.
Ken Johnson, program manager
for the RAS at Community Options
Australia, which operates in NSW
and ACT, says while the end-to-end
process is by and large working,
there are challenges at every step.
He says problems have been
experienced with missing and
incorrect service provider information
on My Aged Care, important information
being omitted from contact centre referrals
and duplicate referrals being sent to both
the RAS and an ACAT.
Technical challenges including issues
with the My Aged Care assessor app
and providers not being able to view an
assessment and support plan completed by
a RAS have also slowed down the process.
These system challenges have distracted
from a concentrated focus on wellness
and reablement as part of the assessment
process, he told the Active Ageing
Conference in late October.
"The RAS is one cog in a greater system
and the success of the changes is not only
reliant on regional assessment services, but
all stakeholders within the system -- from
government to the client -- and clients have
to be educated about the process."
Further complicating the rollout has been
the accuracy of service provider information
on the My Aged Care website and the
readiness of providers to receive referrals.
The department reported that at 28
September, just 39 per cent of providers
were ready to receive referrals through My
Aged Care. Among larger providers the
situation was better, with 64 per cent set-up
to receive referrals, but the numbers are
lower than expected.
McKechnie says the process in place for
providers is complex and the government
may have underestimated the level of
support required by providers to activate
their services on the My Aged Care portal.
"One of the many assumptions is that all
providers are operating in the electronic world.
There is no doubt that many large providers
are, but a number of small rural and remote
providers, and even some metropolitan
providers, have not necessarily been in a fully-
geared electronic environment," she says.
To get around existing issues with the
accuracy of service finder information,
assessors from Queensland RAS provider
Suncare Community Services are calling up
a client's shortlisted providers to confirm
service information, availability and fee
structure at the time of assessment.
"It's not an easy process for a service
provider to list and manage their services,
it requires constant diligence on the part
of providers," says Richard Johnson, chief
operations manager at Suncare, which
operates a RAS in six regions in Queensland.
Buckley says as part of the early
implementation of the RAS, assessors have
been providing a significant amount of short-
term case management (linkage services) to
clients as service provider information is still
missing from the service finder, and search
functions are being refined.
"This means RAS providers have spent
additional time making sure that clients are
getting linked to the services and service
providers of their choice."
McKechnie says it's too early to tell if this
higher than expected level of short-term case
management will be an ongoing feature of the
system, but workloads should improve when
there is enhanced capacity within My Aged
Care to manage multiple service referrals.
At the moment, she says Resthaven's
assessors are involved in family conferencing,
liaison with hospitals and GPs, and linking
with short-term emergency services.
A RURAL AND REGIONAL
There are additional challenges facing
rural and remote organisations in the
delivery of the RAS, says Dr Deb Selway,
integratedliving Australia's research and
project manager, which is a subcontractor
to APM in 11 regions in Queensland,
Tasmania and South Australia.
"It's not uncommon for assessors to travel
large distances such as 1,400 kilometres a
fortnight to be able to service some regional
areas," she says. "The anticipated two hours
of doing an assessment is not feasible."
Dr Selway recommends the government
undertake a review of RAS travel costings
in collaboration with service providers and
subcontractors to ensure equity
of service delivery to rural and
Recognising that service choice
is limited in rural areas, Dr Selway
says often an assessor's only option
is to refer to their own service arm.
"RAS assessors are very aware of
potential conflicts of interest but
when there are no service options,
referring to your own agency should
not be seen as detrimental.
"We need to trust that RAS assessors
are working ethically and morally and that
client choice is paramount for them."
McKechnie says one of the most significant
challenges in the new system is the
management of multiple service referrals.
The My Aged Care software was originally
designed on the basis that CHSP clients
would only be accessing one service type at
a time, which she describes as "the biggest
limitation" in the software at the moment.
While CHSP guidelines have been refined
to reflect the possibility that some clients
will require a referral for multiple service
types, the software does not enable the easy
management of these referrals to a single
provider to avoid fragmented service delivery.
Other areas for improvement include
ensuring that all supplementary information
that accompanies a referral to My Aged Care,
from a hospital or GP, for example, is passed
on to the RAS and service provider in a timely
manner, says McKechnie.
Buckley says it is important that
there is a "co-design approach" to the
next major phase of development of the
My Aged Care portals, including user
acceptance testing processes.
Richard Johnson says one of the benefits of
the RAS tender has been the opportunity to
strengthen partnerships with other service
providers in a region.
Suncare is supported by six subcontractors
including Diversicare, Vision Australia and the
Indigenous Wellbeing Centre to deliver the
RAS to a diverse range of clients, which allows
Suncare to leverage off the skills and expertise
of its specialist partners.
Feros Care says its RAS assessors
are using collaborative forums such as
enterprise social networking service
Yammer to share experiences, information
and ask questions, which is proving to be a
powerful capacity building strategy among
its geographically dispersed teams. n
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