The aged care industry contends it has mapped out a path to quality care with a 15-point plan to boost the sector.
Calling for strategic long-term change as part of their final response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration said human rights, access and choice, workforce improvements, transparency and sustainability needed to be at the heart of future care.
Immediate priorities for the industry group include extending the current 30 per cent increase to the viability supplement and hiking the living expenses payment $10 per resident per day, plus announcing a joint government, employer and union application to increase staff wages under Fair Work.
AACC representative Patricia Sparrow said a total industry overhaul with accompanying funding was needed to improve aged care.
“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,” she said.
“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 group points to the “inescapable reality” that Australia spends less than half of some other developed nations on aged care, citing the figure of 1.2 per cent, versus 2.5 per cent.
Increases to the $21 billion in Commonwealth-funded aged care services are expected to form a strong element of the Australian Government’s Budget next month. The formal response to the 2000-page report is also required by the end of May.
These looming announcements follow promises of $452 million in immediate funding increases when the inquiry’s Care, Dignity and Respect report was released on March 1.
The industry lobby, comprising Aged and Community Services Australia, Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia, Leading AgeServices Australia and UnitingCare Australia, oversees more than 70 per cent of aged care services across the country through more than 1000 separate providers.
Media reports have noted industry “concern” the Australian Government will cherry-pick from the royal commission’s 148 recommendations instead of charting an effective course for the future of the industry.
ACCC representative Sean Rooney said recommendations should be prioritised to help benefit ageing Australians quicker.
“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.
The group has called for new person-centred care laws by mid-2023, uncapped, service-based home care, and funding for “care finders” with scalable assessment services.
Industry also wants a national Inspector-General of Aged Care to oversee independent standards, as well as regulations to limit physical and chemical restraints to be used “as a last resort”.
The AACC has also called for workforce training, scholarships and clinical placements to respond to workforce challenges.