Have your say on financial reporting: Discussion paper released (Deadline 27 February 2015)

The Department of Social Services (DSS) has released a discussion paper outlining its proposed changes to simplify financial and prudential reporting requirements for aged care providers. 

By way of background, early in 2014 DSS asked the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) to advise on options to both improve and rationalise financial reporting processes by aged care providers. ACFA released its report on 28 October 2014. A link to ACFA's report is available on the DSS website, click here. The ACFA report sets out a number of recommendations stated to have the intention of streamlining the reporting obligations. The DSS has indicated its support in principle regarding the recommendations made by ACFA, subject to further consultation.

The recommendations in the ACFA report include the introduction of a comprehensive financial report for providers to use in the 2015/2016 financial year. This new financial report format will be a consolidation of the current reports. The aim is to rationalise the current reporting requirements by consolidating (as relevant) the General Purpose Financial Report, the Annual Prudential Compliance Statement, the Survey of Aged Care Homes and the home care Financial Accountability Reports and requiring care providers to report only once annually against a minimum data set. 

In November 2014 DSS held a special purpose workshop, attended by residential and home care providers, the South Australian Innovation Hub, ACFA and accounting firms. A number of issues were raised at the workshop and are summarised in the discussion paper. 

The DSS has invited submissions on ACFA's new reporting regime, including the definitions document and detailed data items in the reporting format documents as well as the issues arising from the workshops. Submissions are due by close of business on 27 February 2015. 

A link to the discussion paper is available here.  

New and improved - Commonwealth Home Support Program

Following on from last year's changes to residential aged care, the Commonwealth Government is preparing to implement its proposed changes to home and community care on 1 July 2015. 

The new Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) will be introduced on 1 July 2015. This new program will consolidate the:   

  • Commonwealth Home and Community Care (HACC) Program;
  • National Respite for Carers Program;
  • Day Therapy Centres Program; and
  • Assistance with Care and Housing for the Aged Program.

We note that in Victoria and Western Australia, the HACC program will continue to run independently of the CHSP. This is because these two HACC programs, while partially funded by the Commonwealth, are state administered. 

The consolidation of the four current programs into the CHSP comes with promises of streamlined funding arrangements, less red tape, and simplified grant agreements from the Commonwealth. Additionally, a uniform approach to fees in this sector will be implemented via a 'national fees policy'. This aims to address the disparity in fees which currently exists between the various states. There will be a consultation period for the national fees policy which has not yet been released but is due in early 2015.

One of the main practical changes of the introduction of the CHSP is that new clients will be assessed for suitability for CHSP services by the My Aged Care Regional Assessment Service. This is part of a general increase in the services being provided through My Aged Care in 2015. There will also be an introduction of a web based central client record. This will be accessible by clients and their representatives, assessors and service providers and will include information on service delivery and assessment outcomes.