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Aged care - the way forward

Date published: Tuesday 13 April 2021

Category(ies): Media release

AUSTRALIA's aged care industry today urged the Federal Government to adopt its 15-point plan to ensure older Australians get the most benefit in the quickest time from an improved aged care system.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration, representing more than 1,000 providers, today released its formal response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Called the "Aged care - the way forward" report, it recommends the Australian Government should immediately focus on the priority areas of:
1. Human rights, access and choice
2. Workforce
3. Transparency
4. Sustainability.

AACC representative Sean Rooney said the looming 11 May Federal Budget provided the ideal opportunity to adequately fund the aged care system, as part of the Government's formal response to the Royal Commission by 31 May.

"Our report suggests which Royal Commission recommendations should be prioritised to ensure older Australians get the most benefit, in the quickest time," Mr Rooney said.

"We have identified 15 priority areas in four broad groupings that we believe the Australian Government should action immediately to ensure older Australians are given the respect and support the community expects.

The 2,500-page Royal Commission final report was publicly released on 1 March and documented confronting personal stories of under-resourcing, neglect, abuse, and staff shortages in Australia's residential aged care homes.

AACC representative Patricia Sparrow said a total overhaul of aged care was urgently required, not more fiddling at the edges.

"If we are to set up our aged care system to guarantee all older Australians the respect and dignity they deserve we need a total overhaul of the funding model and workforce strategy, not more fiddling at the edges.

"The Royal Commission made it clear we need to put older people, their needs and a rights-based system first. To make that possible, big picture reform of the entire system is necessary. As part of this big picture reform we must see the critical aged care workforce grow and be well supported through better pay, conditions and training.

"The inescapable reality is that Australia currently spends less than half of what comparable countries do on aged care (1.2% vs 2.5% of GDP), which means older Australians are denied the care they deserve."

Ms Sparrow said the industry was committed to better overall transparency.

"Providers are committed to improved transparency and accountability provisions, including a wider range of clinical indicators, a star rating performance system, reporting of care staff hours, reporting of service level financial data to the independent pricing authority and stronger prudential regulations," she said.

Mr Rooney said that while short-term solutions were critical, the Government also needed to include a clear roadmap for longer term reform.

"Older Australians and our sector need a clear statement from Government on longer term reform intent and an indicative implementation timetable which will provide clarity and certainty for the community, older people, aged care workers and service providers about the future policy settings and program design for Australia's future aged care system,"

Mr Rooney said "Part of this plan must include how we fund the system, knowing that this cannot be completely solved by government.

This means we need to start a national conversation about how the aged care system can be sustainably funded, and whether that means individuals contribute more to their own care."

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