Health, Aged Care and Retirement Villages

Update for aged care providers on offering additional services

June 24, 2024

Most residential aged care providers offer some form of additional services, whether individually or on a packaged basis.

There are a number of issues relating to additional services that continue to pose a challenge for providers when introducing or updating their additional services offering. For example:

  • what services are appropriate to offer as additional services;
  • how additional services can be offered as a 'condition of entry' to a particular aged care service, or a room within a service;
  • what the requirements are for itemised accounts, including where a package of services is offered;
  • how to comply with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission's (the Commission) expectations in relation to assessing and monitoring the consumer's ability to 'derive a benefit' from the additional services;
  • what terms should be included in a consumer agreement (whether residential or home care) in relation to additional services.

What does the law say?

The Aged Care Act 1997 Cth and associated Principles regulate the fees aged care providers can charge for care and services.

The legislative provisions relating to additional services are relatively minimal, however the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Commission have published a range of guidance materials setting out more detailed expectations around the charging of fees and other practices relating to additional services, including the Commission's Regulatory Bulletin RB 2023-20.

While these guidance materials are not law, they do provide a clear indication of the position the Commission is likely to take in interpreting the legislation relating to additional services and in taking compliance and enforcement action. There have also been a number of court and tribunal cases concerning additional services. These extrinsic materials are useful for providers to take into account when implementing additional services offerings.

The starting point is that, broadly speaking, providers can charge an additional service fee for items that are not services that providers are required to deliver by law. That is, a provider can charge additional service fees for services that are:

  • for residential care:
    • over and above those listed in Schedule 1 of the Quality of Care Principles 2014 (Cth) (Quality Principles);
    • not listed in Schedule 1 of the Quality Principles;
    • not covered by an extra service payment; and
    • not covered by the payment of an accommodation payment;
  • for home care, items that the consumer agrees to purchase other than the care and services listed in Part 1 Schedule 3 of the Quality Principles.

How does Thomson Geer assist providers?

We have prepared a package of additional services materials that distil the legislative requirements, guidance materials and court and tribunal decisions into one, easy to navigate suite of documents. Our additional services package is available for a fixed fee and includes:

  • advice in relation to each of the issues set out above;
  • suggested additional service items that can be offered individually as well as package suggestions;
  • a policy and procedure that sets out a clear process for managing additional services, including assessing and managing consumers' ability to derive a benefit and a process to follow when consumers' needs change.

We can also provide advice about terms to be included in your resident and home care agreements.

Accessing our online resident and respite agreement solution Simply Legal

Did you know Thomson Geer offers an online resident and respite agreement solution?

Our Simply Legal portal provides an easy to use online solution for generating resident and respite agreements. The agreements are prepared and maintained by our Aged Care team, including automatic updates to incorporate the latest in reform changes and recommended operational clauses.

We have recently upgraded our portal to enable subscribers to include their own additional services packages within the online system. This means we can customise your agreement so that you can input different additional services packages for each facility at the click of a button.

Please contact us if you would like to receive a demonstration of the Simply Legal portal, including our new additional services function.

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