AHPA Insider: November 2023

Aged Care

Summary of Results from Survey of Allied Health Workforce in Residential Aged Care – 2023

AHPA has now analysed the results of our 2023 survey, led by Occupational Therapy Australia, of allied health providers in residential aged care.

The survey sought information about the impact of recent aged care reforms, particularly the introduction of the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) funding tool on 1 October 2022, on the provision of allied health services and clinical outcomes in residential aged care.

Concerning themes that were identified in the 2022 survey have continued one year on:

  • Just over half of respondents said their role had changed since introduction of the AN-ACC. Of those respondents, almost one in five had lost their role and 48% had their hours decreased.
  • 50% experienced changes to their clinical team structure, with 90% of those respondents seeing the number of allied health professionals (AHPs) decrease and about one third experiencing a decrease in the number of allied health assistants (AHAs).

This year’s survey also received responses to two new questions:

  • 32% of respondents were aware of instances where AHAs were assigned roles/duties when those roles/duties should have been undertaken by AHPs, or where the AHA was not adequately supervised.
  • 32% of respondents knew of instances where personnel from outside allied health were inappropriately assigned allied health clinical roles/duties.

Most alarmingly, 38% of survey respondents said they did not intend to keep working in residential aged care. AHPs made many profound comments about their experiences of deterioration in the safety and quality of care for residents, and often despaired for the future of allied health in residential aged care.

As identified by the Royal Commission, allied health has been significantly underprovided in aged care for years, and it appears to be getting worse. Although replacement of the previous funding instrument by the AN-ACC model is not the driver of allied health decline, the AN-ACC model has coincided with the introduction of mandatory care minutes for nursing and personal care, without an equivalent benchmark for allied health.

As AHPA and our members have consistently advocated to the Australian Government, the significant under-provision of allied health services to older people is not being addressed by any mechanism. Providers are also less likely to provide allied health in any comprehensive way when reablement is not embedded as a core philosophy of aged care.

For our analysis of what needs to change, see here.

Digital Health

AHPA secures new contract with the Australian Digital Health Agency

Allied Health Professions Australia are pleased to announce we have entered into an 18 month contract to work closely with the Australian Digital Health Agency. The relationship will co-ordinate the approach to the inclusion of allied health into government driven digital health initiatives, specifically My Health Record and Provider Connect Australia™.

The connection of allied health professionals to Australians’ My Health Record information is critical to achieving a connected healthcare system.  This will help to deliver informed multidisciplinary care at the point of care, as recommended by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report.

Provider Connect Australia™ is a single place to maintain the accuracy of healthcare service and practitioner information, reducing paperwork and human error. This will save time for organisations delivering allied health services, meaning more time to deliver services to consumers. We look forward to working with the Australian Digital Health Agency to deliver these benefits to professionals and consumers.

Participation in additional initiatives

In addition to this work AHPA will continue to participate in the following groups associated with government driven digital health initiatives:

    • Clinical Reference Group – Faster access to diagnostic imaging and pathology reports in My Health Record (the CRG).
    • Council for Connected Care
    • Aged Care Digital Advisory Group
    • National Secure Messaging Network Governance Committee

AHPA exploring work with CSIRO

AHPA are also exploring with the CSIRO how we can collaboratively increase allied health presence within the work CSIRO are leading which relates to interoperable terminology standards. This work will enable the sharing of allied health generated information across multiple digital platforms within the future state environment but to date has little allied health representation and involvement.

Collectively, the aforementioned work will begin to progress the sharing of allied health information with consumers, their support network and the multidisciplinary care team.

Aged care data and digital strategy draft

AHPA were pleased to see the release of the Aged Care Data and Digital Strategy – DRAFT identifies the need to ensure allied health professionals are:

    • given access to e-referrals within the system currently in use by medical professionals
    • enabled to upload care summaries to My Health Record
    • a part of the seamless flow of information
    • more easily identified as required services for consumers by the broader care team.

We look forward to seeing the final version of the strategy and how we can assist with its implementation to ensure the identified needs are met.