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Commonwealth crackdown on state-run ACATs

The Department of Health has required state and territory governments to demonstrate how they will improve the performance of their Aged Care Assessment Teams amid concerns over assessment delays.

Department officials told a Senate estimates hearing states were being held accountable for failures to meet key performance targets as part of agreements with the Commonwealth to deliver comprehensive assessments for older people.

The department revealed some states were taking up to three months to complete 80 per cent of assessments referred by My Aged Care, with Queensland and Tasmania singled out as among the worst-performing jurisdictions.

Three states – Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia – met a deadline in late May to submit plans for lifting their performance. The department was awaiting responses from the other jurisdictions, it said.

“We have identified areas of concern. Some states are more timely than others, and so we have taken a much stronger action with those states,” Fiona Buffinton, first assistant secretary aged care access and quality, told the hearing on 30 May.

The department denied inadequate resourcing from the Commonwealth was to blame for the assessment delays and said it was examining the workforce numbers and technology used by ACAT teams across the country.

“It is highly variable the technology that ACAT teams are using. Some are using iPads and an application that can reduce the time for each assessment by 30 minutes and some regions are using very old technology,” said Ms Buffinton.

She said state governments were being asked to focus on the timeliness of assessments, staff education and the efficiency of systems.

The consistency of ACAT performance across different regions within a state could also be improved, Ms Buffinton said.

Single assessment program

On the question of whether the government would integrate ACATs with RASs from mid-2020, the department said there was currently no government commitment to introduce a single assessment service.

The department sought to make a distinction between the government’s 2015 budget announcement to integrate the Commonwealth Home Support Program and home care packages and the creation of a single assessment service.

It said it was continuing to consult with stakeholders and would be releasing a discussion paper on the next stage of home care reform within the next month.

Related AAA coverage: Questions raised over wait for aged care assessment

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4 Responses to Commonwealth crackdown on state-run ACATs

  1. Terry Kelly May 31, 2017 at 11:15 pm #

    At last this serious issue is being looked at. It is totally unacceptable that waiting times for ACAT assessments have blown out to such a degree. But 3 months is mild, some teams have now got out to 5 and even 6 months.
    The article makes the mistake, however, of blaming slow uptake of new technology. It’s actually the new technology and the tedious, repetitive, rambling, shambolic and nonsensical My Aged Care system and the National Screening Assessment Form (NSAF) that has to be entered on to the computer that is the villain. Assessments take much longer because lots of useless information gathering has replaced sensible, respectful interactions between clients and assessors. Prior to My Aged Care laptops were being used, and also paper notes which were later entered on to the computer, and wait times were about 3 to 6 weeks usually. My Aged Care has more than quadrupled the wait times. The staff haven’t become slacker, in fact they work harder than ever. It’s the boring application of an inefficient model poorly designed by bureaucrats and technofiles, with no consultation with practitioners, that is to blame.

  2. Jo June 1, 2017 at 7:15 am #

    I am an ACAT that has the latest technology and staff that use the Myassessor App but we still have an extended waitlist since we transitioned to my aged care. We also need to acknowledge the additional layers of work expected by ACATs in the form of Reviews, HCP Priority reassessments and supporting vulnerable clients, with two of these activities not funded.

  3. James Underwood June 1, 2017 at 8:26 am #

    The time being taken for home care assessments appears to have blown out in all jurisdictions. We are finding cases of great delay in getting the assessments and then in the prioritisation process since the 27 Feb 2017 changes. There were 10,000 unused Level 2 places last year plus the 18,000 Levels 1 thru 4 that were released in March and April 2017. This should have allowed swift roll-out to persons already holding an approval.
    Is the delay partly because the 56 day period, then 28 day extension, for persons to accept an offered place?
    Has the Dept had regard to the normal proportion of persons who do NOT accept an offered home care place when determining how many places should be “on offer” at one time?
    Have higher level places gone to Level 2 persons who are already being assisted by providers whilst they are approved and waiting for a hither-to unavailable Level 3 or 4? If so, is “prioritisation” weighted to assisting new approvals with highest need OR is it assisting old approvals whom have been waiting for longer and receiving Level 2 assistance but have lower urgency of need for a Level 3 or 4?
    Should we prioritise lower-means persons to prevent them from becoming premature residential aged care admissions?
    Questions aplenty.
    Please give us data and information and answers. People have urgent unmet care needs now and we want to see how this new process is working and have an input into it.

  4. Kylie Hardy June 2, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

    I have just booked in an ACAT assessment for my client who was assessed in both 2014 and November 2016 as High care for both Respite and in-home care\. He now urgently needs to move into Permanent residential care and the wait time is 4-5 months. This is northern suburbs of Melbourne. We are seeing wait times in South Eastern Melbourne blown out to 6 months.
    The most frustrating factor is the lack of approvals for Permanent Residential care. Care Guidance is now attending all our clients ACAT’s to ensure the client is adequately assessed.

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