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Government Royal Commission COVID response

Blog4

by Matthew Politarhis – National Clinical Manager (Allied Health)

The Australian Government has announced the progress against the six recommendations by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s special report on the impact of COVID-19 in aged care.

“These measures will improve residents’ physical and mental health to address deconditioning caused by isolation and provide psychological therapy services to people who will benefit from a structured approach to treat mental disorders. The measures provide additional mental and physical therapies by allied health professionals, including psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and exercise physiologists.


HCA Allied Health have broken down Recommendation 3Medicare Benefits Schedule items to increase Provision of Allied Health Services in Residential Aged Care to showcase what it means for your organisation and importantly your residents.

Recommendation 3 has been accepted and will commence as of December 10th until 30th June 2022, which will include:

  1. Increasing access to allied health for residents of aged care facilities ($12.1 million)

    a) Increase the maximum number of CDM allied health services from five per annum to 10 per annum for eligible recipients of Commonwealth-supported residential aged care places for services provided in person or remotely via telehealth, for physical therapies including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and exercise physiology. 

    b) Introduce new MBS items for allied health professionals, including a new flag fall item for the first in person (face-to-face) service provided by an allied health provider in a residential aged care facility.

    c) Introduce new initial assessment allied health MBS items for services delivered in person in RACFs, recognising the additional time required to assess people living in RACFs, who mostly have complex needs.

  2. Additional allied health group services for aged care residents in facilities affected by COVID-19 outbreaks ($15.7 million)

    The Australian Government will provide funding to Primary health Networks (PHNs) to commission allied health group consultations with physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and/or occupational therapists for people living in COVID-19 affected residential aged care facilities.

    These groups will be available to people who need rehabilitation after recovering from COVID-19 or have lost condition or mobility because of restrictions put in place to manage the outbreak.  This initiative will fund initial assessment and allied health group consultations for a six month period, with evaluation of its effectiveness in mid to late 2021.

    The measure will provide:
    a) An initial meeting between allied health provider and RACF (identify patients who would benefit)
    b) An initial one-on-one consultation with each resident (determine function and goals)
    c) Regular twice-weekly Allied health Group sessions to improve function
  3. Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners (35.5 million)

    Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) initiative (Better Access)’ will be expanded to permit aged care residents to access up to 20 individual psychological therapy sessions where their general practitioner or psychiatrist determines they would clinically benefit from additional mental health support.

    Psychological services will be provided by eligible general practitioners, psychologists, social workers or occupational therapists in accordance with a mental health treatment plan developed in consultation with the patient’s general practitioner or psychiatrist. Aged care service providers will be required to support residents to book and attend appointments as set out in the Quality of Care Principles 2014. 

For the full report, or to discuss your allied health services, contact me on: matthew.politarhis@healthcareaustralia.com.au.