Joint Communique from DSS and the Department Human Services

Page last updated: 24 August 2015

Dear Aged Care Stakeholders

This information was uploaded on 21 August 2015

On Monday 17 August 2015, the Department of Human Services (DHS) and Department of Social Services (DSS) held a joint meeting with leaders of peak industry groups – Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and the Aged Care Guild to discuss issues related to payments.

This meeting was a follow up to issues expressed most recently at the Aged Care Sector Committee meeting in late July.

The peaks acknowledged that while they had seen improvements in the quality of service there were ongoing issues of concern.

Both Departments recognised the continuing concern felt by providers.

The main issues raised on behalf of the aged care industry were:

  • Implications for individual clients arising from means testing;
  • Timeliness of responses from DHS when matters are escalated either through contact centres or email;  
  • Delays in information (perceived or real), in concert with inconsistent information provided to care recipients and providers about means test assessments;
  • The timing of advice or recovery action when care recipients are classified as "means not disclosed" or their annual and lifetime cap limits; and
  • The need for improved and expanded communications to the industry to provide context and clarification on processes and issues.

DHS confirmed that changes to both the home care payment systems and means testing have rectified the previous issues.  Industry representatives agreed that historical issues appear to have been addressed.  They also agreed that the availability of online claiming for home care should increase the level of transparency, while reducing manual errors.

DHS has worked closely with industry during the recent development of the online claiming system for Home Care services and looks forward to a successful implementation. A similarly cautious approach is planned for the important upgrading of payment systems for Residential Care and Transition Care, which is scheduled for implementation in 2016.

Industry representatives queried the timing of advice when care recipients reach their annual and lifetime cap limits. DHS has committed to providing further information on how annual and lifetime caps are calculated and the timing of notification and payment adjustments.

DHS and DSS have agreed to improve communications and expand on opportunities to engage with the sector through a range of channels, including the use of webinars, articles for peak newsletters and by attending industry conferences. Topics for webinars and newsletters will be agreed between the peak bodies and the Departments to ensure that the main areas of concern are effectively targeted.

This constructive exchange of issues and co-production of solutions is welcomed, and DHS and DSS look forward to continuing work with the industry to further improve the operation and understanding of the aged care system.

The Departments would like to remind providers to call DHS’ Aged Care line for providers on 1800 195 206 in relation to online claims processing and payments.

If the enquiry is specifically in relation to a means test assessment they can call DHS' Aged Care means testing line on 1800 227 475.

The Department of Social Services