- The Department of Health & Human Services has a handy list of answers to frequently asked questions about HACC minimum data set reporting.
- For questions not answered here, HACC service providers are welcome to contact the HACC help desk.
Have a question about HACC? Click on the relevant following link to find an answer. Some answers may ask you to go to the Funded Agency Channel for more information.
Where to send the data and how to get feedback
1. Where do I send my HACC data?
Attach your .csv HACC data file to an email and send it to email@example.com
2. How do I know when my HACC data has been received?
The firstname.lastname@example.org email address automatically sends an acknowledgement reply to your email address, when it receives an email from you. This email tells you that your email has been received, and includes some instructions. For example, it asks you to contact the HACC MDS help desk if you have not received a submission log within two days of submitting your file.
Please remember the acknowledgement means only that your email was received. If you forgot to attach your data files, your email will still be acknowledged.
3. How do I know if the data is okay?
After our repository processes your file, it will email a submission log to the contacts listed. The submission log will be an attachment to the email. It will tell you how many records were fully accepted, how many were accepted with warnings, and if there are any Critical Errors.
When any agency’s data (or rather, each outlet’s data) has been validated and accepted, that agency’s client records are added to the overall HACC database for the particular HACC collection period. A copy of the total database is then uploaded to the Funded Agency Channel and refreshed frequently during the data collection period.
4. I am not receiving submission logs, just the acknowledgement email. What do I need to do?
There are some different reasons for this situation:
- The repository does not have your email address. The submission logs are emailed to nominated addresses stored in the repository. So, if you are not receiving submission logs, we do not have your email address. To add an email address to the repository, send an email to email@example.com, and include the names and email addresses of the people whom you would like added.
- There is a problem with the mail server, either at our end or yours. You can contact the HACC MDS help desk to check we received your emails; we will try to send you an email again.
- Your file has not been processed. You can check the address to which you sent your email, and you can call the help desk so we can identify the problem.
Whatever the reason, if you have not received a submission log within two days of emailing it, please contact the HACC MDS help desk.
5. I have changed jobs. Whom do I contact to stop receiving HACC emails?
Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org , and let us know the email addresses of the people who should stop receiving HACC notifications.
6. My submission log listed ‘duplicate client records’ under Critical Errors. What should I do?
If a submitted file contains two or more records with the same statistical linkage key (SLK), the data repository will reject these records. A HACC client record should be uniquely defined by its SLK (that is, a string comprising certain letters of name, date of birth, and sex code). You need to investigate why duplicate client records have the same SLK.
A client record might have been duplicated in error. If so, you can consolidate the information into one record and delete the other record, then extract a new report for submission.
If you have other reasons for duplicating a client record, please contact the HACC MDS help desk.
7. What can I see on the Funded Agency Channel?
If you select ‘My Agency’ on the Funded Agency Channel, then select the link to ‘HACC Reports’, you will see a processed version of the data that you sent us. The Funded Agency Channel is now an essential link in the HACC data collection and feedback loop.
Once the department receives an agency’s HACC MDS file, the data repository processes the file. An extract from the individual agency’s data is then posted on the Funded Agency Channel, consisting of about 20 reports. An agency should be able to view its reports within two days of the data being accepted.
8. Who can access to the Funded Agency Channel?
Managers and staff of HACC service providers can register to use the site. Departmental staff can also register to view the data for all HACC service providers.
Access to the Funded Agency Channel is free.
9. How do I register with the Funded Agency Channel?
Go to the Funded Agency Channel and follow the registration prompts. Non-government staff need to state the desired level of access (financial or non-financial) as authorised by the chief executive officer or equivalent of their agency.
10. Please explain Funded Agency Channel report ‘HACC 19 – quarterly outputs compared to targets’
First, read the footnotes below the table. The footnotes describe the columns of information. The last two columns of information display how your agency is tracking against where it should be tracking for the year to date.
For example, after reporting the October to December quarter, you will be able to see your agency’s percentage in meeting half of the annual target.
For further information, please contact the HACC MDS help desk. If your targets look incorrect, please contact your regional HACC program advisor.
11. My agency provides both linkages packages and general HACC services. How do we monitor our performance targets set in our service agreement?
If your agency is funded to provide linkages packages, you should report services to your linkages clients by choosing the activities from the normal range of HACC activity types (personal care, meals, etc.). If your agency also provides services to non-linkages HACC clients, you may not be able to distinguish the linkages clients from the other clients in your HACC MDS transmission.
The HACC Report 19 on the Funded Agency Channel will show you exceeded your targets for some or all activities, because these targets do not include the expected services delivered from the linkages packages.
12. My agency’s service agreement says we have funds for HACC flexible service response or service system resourcing. How are we supposed to report against these in the MDS?
If you are funded for flexible service response or service system resourcing, and you use these funds to provide direct services to HACC clients, then you should report using whichever of the standard HACC activity types is the best match. For example, if you use the funding:
- to provide HACC personal care, or
- to top up other HACC funds for personal care, or
- to provide an innovative service that can best be described as personal care
—then record against personal care in the MDS.
Advice on your HACC software
We can offer technical advice only to people using the ACE system (HACC version).
For problems with any other software system, please contact your vendor.
Of course, we can help any agency to understand the HACC data items, reporting requirements and so on.
The QDC system
If you agency is jointly funded by the HACC and Disability Services programs, you do NOT have to use the QDC system to report the HACC MDS.
The CRISSP system can record and report both QDC and HACC MDS. Meanwhile, if you are using QDC to report the HACC MDS, keep doing so.
Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) clients
1. Can DVA clients receive HACC services?
Yes. If a DVA client meets the HACC eligibility criteria (frail older people, younger people with disabilities and their carers), then they are eligible to receive HACC services.
2. When are clients with DVA pensions reported on the HACC MDS?
To decide, you need to identify two situations:
- Does your agency receive Department of Health & Human Services funds to support HACC service delivery to DVA clients? Check the service agreement for DVA-specific targets. If so, you should include services to these DVA clients among your other HACC clients and report them in the HACC MDS.
- Does your agency have a direct agreement with DVA to provide community care services? If so, this work is not HACC program funding. You should not count these clients in your HACC MDS reports.
Make sure the two MDS items ‘Government Pension/Benefit Status’ and ‘DVA entitlement’ are completed for all HACC clients. These selections indicate whether a client holds a DVA entitlement card.
HACC MDS counting rules
1. Do I need to round up the hours?
Rounding up is not necessary. We encourage you to report the time for each service type more precisely. For example, if a particular client actually got 3½ hours of domestic assistance in the quarter, report it as 3.5 hours.
But you may choose to round up the hours. Each separate entry during the quarter should be accurate to five minutes or better (e.g. 1 hour 20 minutes on Tuesday 1st, then 2 hours 15 minutes on Tuesday 8th, etc.). That is, rounding up should be done only after the total is calculated at the end of the quarter. It should be done automatically by your software.
Check with your software vendor or IT administrator to ensure any rounding up is happening at the end of the quarter and not for each service episode.
Check your data against the Funded Agency Channel’s HACC Report.
2. How should I record group activities on the MDS?
Group activities are recorded in the same way as a one-to-one service. For example, if six clients attended a four hour Planned Activity Group (PAG) session, you should record four hours of PAG against each of the six clients.
Groups receiving a service funded as HACC allied health should also be counted in this way. That is, the individual members of the group should each have a HACC record.
3. How should I record hours of domestic assistance when more than one client lives in the household?
If a household comprising a couple (when both are HACC clients) received one hour of domestic assistance, then you can record it as either 30 minutes each or 60 minutes for one. It is important not to double count.
Domestic assistance and property maintenance are the only service types to which this counting rule applies.
4. How do I report a client who is being attended by two different staff from two different HACC service providers at the same time?
Suppose a physiotherapist from the community health centre and a personal carer from the local council are working with a care recipient for one hour (so the personal carer can learn the physio exercises to practice with the care recipient). In recording the time spent with the care recipient, each agency would record one hour.
The community health centre would record one hour of physiotherapy, and the local council would record one hour of personal care. Each agency would need to maintain a client record for the care recipient.
If you are unsure how to record time for any situation, please contact the HACC MDS help desk.
Client functional status (dependency)
1. Which HACC agencies should collect the functional status data?
Designated HACC Assessment Services (HAS) and linkages agencies should collect the functional status data on all clients. Other agencies are encouraged to collect the data if they wish.
2. When should the functional status data be collected?
This information should be collected as part of an assessment. It should be collected by assessment officers, usually in the client’s home. If the person is receiving an allied health service, the assessment could be done in a centre.
The information is not to be collected at intake by intake officers.
3. Is it okay if these 14 items are incomplete?
Yes, it is okay for these items to be incomplete. Your agency may need to collect this information over time as you develop a relationship with the client. It would be helpful if your software provided gentle warnings each quarter to alert you to incomplete data.
4. When a client's functional status changes, should the previous record be kept?
Yes. In your software, the client’s functional status record should have a SAVE or UPDATE function that will allow you to update the record. You should be able to save the new data without losing the previous information about the person’s functional status.
The software should allow you to easily view previous records, so you can see trends, improvement, decline etc. You want to be able to benefit from a review of the client’s progress.
5. What is date of last update?
It is the date on which the client’s functional status was most recently updated or reviewed. If you have done a re-assessment but found no change to the scores, you should still supply a new date of last update.
You should also update this date when there is a significant change to the care giving arrangements, such as a different carer. But do not change the date to record minor administrative changes to the client’s record.
Data about carers
1. The MDS v2 has several items about carers. Do I need to collect information for all of them?
You do not need to collect all the additional carer items at once. If the service is delivered to a care recipient such as an older person living alone, your agency may not have much information about the carer. If so, plan to record the additional data as you have further contact with the client, such as during assessment and review.
If you learn about the carer after you start providing services, remember to update the Carer Availability item in the client record.
2. What if my agency knows about the carer but does not have the care recipient’s details?
Some agencies deal mainly with carers, providing respite or other support services. These agencies probably have the additional carer items for the HACC MDS, such as name, date of birth, and country of birth.
If your agency is in this situation, but you do not have complete information about the care recipient’s name and date of birth, you should use the carer’s information instead of the care recipient’s, and then choose code 3 ‘Carer SLK information has replaced missing Client SLK’ in the ‘Statistical Linkage Key Missing’ flag.
Because incomplete data is acceptable for some items, your client management system should not generate critical warnings or error messages for these additional carer items.
These additional carer items are not required for a referral via the SCTT template. So, they should not automatically populate a referral form unless the carer has given consent.
3. What if I know there is a carer but I don’t know their name or date of birth?
Sometimes you might know that a client has a carer, but you do not know the basic information about them for generating a Statistical Linkage Key.
In this situation, you can use the care recipient’s letters of name, date of birth, and sex to fill in those items for the carer. You then need to choose code 4 ‘Client SLK information has replaced missing Carer SLK’ in the ‘Statistical Linkage Key Missing’ element.
If you later learn this information about the carer and enter it in the system, you need to change the SLK Missing element to code 2 ‘Both Client SLK and Carer SLK are correct’.
In many cases, your software will do this automatically for you.
Reporting HACC assessment, case management, care coordination
1. Who should report doing assessment?
Report hours of assessment if your agency is a designated HACC Assessment Service (HAS) and you have carried out a broad needs-based assessment or a service-specific assessment of the client. For more explanation of the counting rules, see Reporting and data.
But if your agency is not a HAS, and you undertook a service-specific assessment for planned activity group (PAG), allied health, or nursing services, then you should record the time spent in assessment under the name of the relevant service type (e.g. PAG, allied health or nursing). The time spent doing the service-specific assessment is not recorded separately in the HACC MDS.
2. Who should report doing case management?
Report case management if:
- your agency is funded to deliver linkages packages, or
- your agency is a HAS with funding for a pilot project on short-term case management.
3. Who should report doing client care coordination?
Report care coordination if:
- your agency is a designated HAS, or
- your agency has funding for Care Coordination—Access and Support, and you have spent time helping a client access services by other HACC agencies and related services.
If in doubt, refer to your service agreement and talk to your regional HACC contact.
Flexible Service Response (FSR) & Service System Resourcing (SSR)
If you are funded for Flexible Service Response (FSR) or Service System Resourcing (SSR) and you use these funds to provide direct services for HACC clients, then you should report using whichever of the standard HACC activity types is the best match.
For example, if your agency uses FSR money to provide HACC personal care, or to top up other HACC funds for personal care, or to provide an innovative service that can best be described as personal care, then personal care is the category to use in the MDS.
However, if your agency does not use SSR funds for direct service delivery to clients, then these funds are simply not counted. The MDS is not intended to account for an agency’s total HACC funding. Please contact your regional program advisor about how to report your use of these funds to them.
Reporting meals at centre
If your agency delivers meals to casual clients in a centre-based meals program, reporting those meals can be difficult. The MDS was not designed to collect information about casual clients.
One method is to create an ‘anonymous client record’ and enter the total number of meals given to people without a proper client record. Talk to your regional program advisor or the HACC MDS help desk
Reporting volunteer coordination
1. We receive funding for a volunteer coordinator. How should I report volunteer coordination on the MDS?
Report this work as volunteer social support. We want you to report the value of your volunteer coordinator’s work, not their work time. This value is reflected in how many hours clients are spending with volunteers.
Remember, the HACC MDS is a client-focused data collection. You record the length of time that the client receives a direct service. In this case, that means the time that a client spends with a volunteer.
For example, for a dog walking service, you would count from the time of the volunteer’s arrival at the client’s home (2 pm) to the volunteer’s final departure (3 pm). That is, record one hour of volunteer social support. Do not include the volunteer’s time spent in travel to and from the client’s home, attendance at training sessions or administrative tasks.
You may ask volunteers to estimate the hours of client contact.
2. How can I reconcile hours of volunteer social support with my agency’s performance target in the service agreement, which is about the volunteer coordinator’s paid hours?
It is true that the target does not correspond to the reported outputs for volunteer social support. But the information about hours of service to individual clients is very useful in terms of planning, service development and accountability.
3. We use volunteer coordination funding to run a community transport service. How can I report this on the HACC MDS?
Report this service as hours of volunteer social support (assuming the drivers are volunteers). Count the hours or minutes of each trip provided to a HACC client. To do so, you need to create a client record for each regular passenger, and update it.
An estimate of the trip duration for each client during the quarter is sufficient. If all or most of the passengers are casuals, you need to discuss the problem with your regional program advisor.
4. Our agency runs a Telelink service. How do I report this?
Report this service under volunteer social support. For each client, record the hours of service.
In your service agreement, the funds will be described as volunteer coordination—other.
Consent and confidentiality of client data
1. Do I need to obtain the client’s consent before including an extract from their data in the HACC MDS?
As part of client intake, your agency’s HACC clients should be informed about the data collection process and the steps taken to safeguard their data. A client may request their data be excluded from this process. If so, their client record should be excluded from the quarterly MDS transmission.
However, you are not required to obtain a person’s formal, signed consent to include their data in the national HACC MDS.
To inform people, agencies may use the following as a confidentiality statement:
‘Please note [this organisation] is required to pass on some of the information it collects about the people who receive services funded under the Home & Community Care (HACC) Program [and/or the Aged Care Support for Carers Program, as relevant]. The information will be used for planning, to ensure resource levels are adequate and the right services are available to meet demand. Some of the information we obtain from you will be sent to the Victorian Department of Health & Human Services, which administers the HACC program.
The department has adopted information privacy principles and uses strict security measures to prevent unauthorised access to the database. It will forward this information to the Commonwealth Department of Health & Aged Care for statistical purposes. The data cannot be used to affect your entitlements or access to HACC or other services.
You have the right to look at any records about you held by our agency and to request correction of anything which is wrong or out of date. We assure you that no information that could identify you individually (or any family member or friend acting as carer) is forwarded to either state or Commonwealth departments. The limited information that we send is used only to improve overall services for all community care clients.
Please let us know if you have any queries about this process, or if you do not wish material derived from your record to be included in the information that we normally send to the Department of Health & Human Services.’
2. Do I need to obtain the client’s consent when filling out the SCTT forms?
Yes, if the SCTT is used for referrals. One of the SCTT forms is labelled ‘Consumer Consent to Share Information’. You must use this form if you want to forward the SCTT forms to another service provider, because the SCTT forms contain the client’s and/or the carer’s real name, address and other personal information.
Functional assessment summary
The functional assessment summary is part of the Service Coordination Tool Templates (SCTT) and should be used after a person has been assessed at home or in a community health centre.
Not all HACC agencies need to fill in the functional assessment summary. The purpose of the form is to convey information to another agency about the assessed level of a person’s dependency. So, you should fill in the SCTT functional assessment summary only if:
- your agency is a designated HACC Assessment Service, and
- you have assessed the client’s functional status, and
- you are making a referral.
Agencies funded under certain programs (such as Aged Care Assessment Services, Disability Services and HARP) will also use this tool.
These data items map to Victoria’s HACC MDS functional status data items. So the functional assessment summary can be used as a source of data for the HACC MDS version 2.
Many agencies receive funds from more than one government program, such as HACC and Community Health, but run a single set of services. Information management arrangements should ensure reported hours of output are consistent with the hours of input described in your HACC service agreement.
Assume the HACC funds (after pooling) are going only to clients eligible for HACC services. You could then use a formula based on the percentage of HACC funds in the pool. If 50% of your program funding is HACC, then it is appropriate to report 50% of the clients as HACC.
Alternatively, you could modify your information management system. Report any relevant clients as HACC clients but reduce the hours of HACC service to each client by an appropriate percentage. Using the example above, this reduction would be 50%.
HACC annual fee report: September
An annual data acquittal report is required for HACC agencies. You need to report a single total amount of annual fees collected from clients. The form is available in August each year, and you need to return the form to your regional program advisor by 30 September.
1. What if I am not sure about the client’s/carer’s date of birth?
When you are unable to determine the exact date of birth of a client or their carer, it is appropriate to estimate. Work out the year that they were born (approximately) and enter the date of birth as 01/01/Estimated Year of Birth. You also need to select ‘Estimated’ on the date of birth estimate flag.
When estimating, you need to select an appropriate date. If your information management system has a default date, please switch it off.
If you later learn the correct date of birth, and update your records, remember to change the date of birth estimate flag to 2 ‘Not estimated’.
2. I have created a schedule for service delivery to our clients for the next month. Can I enter this schedule as a record of service delivery?
No. You should report only what has happened, not what is planned to happen. A cancelled or postponed visit to a client should not corrupt the data recorded in the MDS as hours delivered.
3. How are the following items used?
‘Date of entry into HACC service episode’ and ‘Date of exit from HACC service episode’ are intended to show the actual dates on which the client started and stopped being a HACC client – not the planned dates.
These dates should never be in the future. You may also need to check they don’t contradict other information – for example, the ‘Date of entry into HACC service episode’ should be earlier than (or the same as) the ‘Date of last update’.
4. What do I do when someone stops being my agency’s client?
When you stop providing services to a client, you should record the ‘Date of exit from HACC service episode’ as the last date of receipt of assistance. You should also report the relevant reason in the ‘Main reason for cessation of services’ item.
Pensions and benefits
When you know a client is receiving a pension or benefit, you should report it. Check exactly which type of payment, to select the best option for the ‘Government Pension/Benefit Status’ MDS item.
According to Centrelink, no-one under 60 will be on the aged pension, and no-one under 16 can be on the disability support pension.
If the care recipient is not on a pension but the carer is, you do not need to report the carer’s pension. In this situation, you would select ‘No government pension or benefit’.
Language and interpreters
A care recipient may require an interpreter if they prefer to speak a language other than English when arranging or receiving care. Please check your information management system does not default to recording a need for an interpreter.
If you can, it would be sensible to include a warning in your computer system so you know when you report both that an interpreter is needed and that the preferred language is English.
If your agency has funding for HACC Respite, please report against the single item ‘Respite’. The time is recorded in hours.
Any record with respite hours should also include information on the carer.
If your agency has funding from the Aged Care Support for Carers Program (SCP), please use the HACC MDS to report. For SCP Respite daytime in home, SCP Respite overnight in home non-active, SCP Respite overnight in home active, the time is recorded in hours and minutes. For SCP Residential Respite, the time is recorded in whole days.
SCP Counselling and Support includes both one-to-one contacts and group support for carers. This time is recorded as hours and minutes. SCP Goods and Equipment is recorded in whole dollars. It is for the purchase of items, or for use in brokerage funds, to assist the carer or care recipient.
Reviewed 09 September 2015