Compliance implications of Quarterly Financial Report
From 1st July 2022, approved aged care service providers are required to submit a Quarterly Financial Report (QFR), with the first report due by 4th November 2022. The QFR will cover the following areas:
- Viability and prudential compliance questions
- Quarterly financial statements
- Residential and home care labour cost and hours reporting
- Quarterly food and nutrition report
Purpose of reporting
The data collected through the QFR will be used for a range of purposes, including:
- More timely analyses of the sector’s viability and to minimise the risk of business failures
- Financial oversight which will be used to track, monitor, and benchmark the sector
- Consumer choice and transparency, such as care minutes that will form part of the star rating system
- Providers will also be required to publish a General Purpose Financial Report that will be publicly accessible. *The increased financial transparency is to allow consumers to make informed choices about their care
- Policy development based on the underlying data
- Provide information regarding the AN-ACC funding mode
- Ensuring regulation and compliance
Compliance Implications for Providers
This level of reporting and transparency may impact and increase the compliance requirements, such as:
- Food and nutrition spend and preparation
- Direct care minutes and labour costs
- Compliance with the prudential standards
- Informs the risk-based regulation of services and providers’ performance against the Aged Care Quality Standards (ACQS) and other provider responsibilities
In addition, providers may see costs increase to allow for new systems and technology and dedicated resources to identify, collate, analyse and verify the information being submitted.
Food and nutrition spend and preparation
Food and nutrition reporting through the QFR will replace the BDF reporting, and all questions are mandatory, and providers will be required to indicate how the majority of main meals are prepared. ( i.e. cook fresh, cook chill or cook freeze.) This will assist in identifying consumers who may be at nutritional risk.
The Department noted that research demonstrates that freshly prepared food is generally more nutritious and flavourful and has a high chance of being consumed, particularly in a residential care setting where taste sensations have changed or may be muted.
In March 2022, it was reported that almost a third of aged care homes have been referred to the ACQSC for spending less than $10 a day per consumer on food. This new requirement will give greater scrutiny for providers who;
- spend less than $10 a day per consumer on food
- use minimal fresh ingredients
- use food preparation methods other than cooking fresh
Direct Care Minutes and Labour Costs
In the QFR, providers will need to disclose:
- Direct care minutes. They will be assessed on their progress against their care minute targets and will be part of the star rating. The Department of Health and Aged Care has advised that care minutes will approximately represent 22% of the overall mix for star rating
- Registered Nurse hours between morning, afternoon and overnight shifts
- Direct care labour costs and hours including Allied health, Care management (including diversional therapy / lifestyle and recreation)
With the definition of direct care minutes, some providers are taking the opportunity to reassess the roles that are not included in the 200 care minutes such as allied health and lifestyle staff.
The Department of Health and Aged Care has advised they will check the data submitted for care hours and labour costs to ensure that what has been reported is within a reasonable range of average hourly rates across the sector.
Drawing on the experience noted with food and nutrition reporting, providers need to be aware of how they demonstrate the delivery of quality care and the requirements of the Aged Care Quality Standards (ACQS), such as Standard 3, 4 and 7. The likelihood of greater scrutiny will be applied to services that differ from industry averages.
In summary, the compliance environment is tightening, and whilst this is going to be a challenge for some, the objective is that the bar has to be raised across the sector to ensure consumers receive quality care and services.
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