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Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Page: 6246


Mrs May asked the Minister for Ageing, in writing, on 20 March 2008:

(1)   In respect of the Rapid Response Team to cut assessment waiting times for elderly people: (a) what are the priority areas; and (b) how many assessors are on the team.

(2)   In respect of every Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) region: (a) what is the current waiting time for assessments; (b) how may elderly people are currently waiting for assessment; and (c) what is the current average number of vacant aged care beds and unused community care packages.

(3)   What is the timeframe within which aged care assessments will be undertaken in the future.


Mrs Elliot (Minister for Ageing) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1) (a)   and (b) A $1 million funding boost to cut assessment waiting times in New South Wales was announced on 17 March 2008. This funding included $250,000 for a mobile Rapid Response Team pilot in far northern New South Wales and northern Sydney. Additional funding for assessors was also directed to the following ACATs across New South Wales to increase the number and timeliness of assessments: Blacktown; Camperdown; Dubbo; Eurobodalla; Hunter Rural; Hunter Urban; Illawarra/Shoalhaven; Northern Tablelands; Richmond Valley; Sutherland; Tweed Valley; Waverley; Westmead/Auburn; and Wingecarribee. NSW Health refers to the Rapid Response Team as Mobile Assessment Support. A Mobile Assessment Support Team (MAST) has been established to operate in the Northern Sydney Central Coast area, and MAST Clinical and Administrative Support has been provided in far northern New South Wales. The number of assessors on the Mobile Assessment Support Teams and additional assessors within the ACATs to which additional funding was provided is not known at this time. NSW Health will be providing a report to the Department of Health and Ageing in September 2008.

(2) (a)   The latest published waiting time data for an ACAT assessment is at the state/territory level in the 2005-06 ACAP Minimum Data Set Report available at: www.health.gov.au/acats. (b) The Department of Health and Ageing does not have data on how many elderly people are currently waiting for an assessment. (c) The Department of Health and Ageing does not keep a list of vacant aged care beds and unused Community Care Packages.

(3)   ACATs should respond to referrals in a timely and efficient manner by allocating a priority category at the time of referral. The priority categories are: 1.     Within 48 hours: refers to a client who, based on information available at referral, requires an immediate response. An urgent assessment is required if the person’s safety is at risk or there is a high likelihood that the person will be hospitalised or required to leave their current residence because they are unable to care for themselves, or their carer is unavailable. This may be due to a crisis in the home involving either the client or the carer or sudden change in the client’s or carer’s medical, physical, cognitive or psychological status. 2.     Between 3 and 14 days: where available information at referral indicates that the client is not at immediate risk of harm. 3.     More than 14 days: where the referral information indicates that the client has sufficient support available at present, but requires an assessment in anticipation of their future care requirements.

1.   Within 48 hours: refers to a client who, based on information available at referral, requires an immediate response. An urgent assessment is required if the person’s safety is at risk or there is a high likelihood that the person will be hospitalised or required to leave their current residence because they are unable to care for themselves, or their carer is unavailable. This may be due to a crisis in the home involving either the client or the carer or sudden change in the client’s or carer’s medical, physical, cognitive or psychological status.

2.   Between 3 and 14 days: where available information at referral indicates that the client is not at immediate risk of harm.

3.   More than 14 days: where the referral information indicates that the client has sufficient support available at present, but requires an assessment in anticipation of their future care requirements.