New HammondCare chief Mike Baird has called for funding models to allow aged care providers to “operate sustainably” while delivering safe care.
The high-profile former New South Wales Premier said high-quality care was difficult to achieve when two-thirds of operators were running at a loss, a figure reinforced in a recent industry analysis.
“Aged care needs a significant uplift in funds and in particular for residential aged care, where our most vulnerable older people receive care,” he told Inside Ageing.
“Funding needs to reflect the cost of care including education and recruitment of our staff.
“However with increased funding comes increased responsibility and the focus on increased transparency for all providers will achieve this.”
Funding, staffing and recruitment across the sector have been in the spotlight following scrutiny from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
In its last hearings, counsel assisting the inquiry proposed recommendations for widespread changes including the establishment of independent pricing, mandated staffing ratios in residential aged care, and a universal, personal care worker registration, and demand-driven aged care places.
Mr Baird said minimum standards of care were needed, “and we have always been determined to do more than this”. He stopped short of supporting or rejecting staff ratios.
“In terms of what counsel-assisting has proposed, provided it enables a workforce model that promotes multi-skilled, person-focused teams and innovative models, then we support [it],” he said.
Mr Baird has been in the top role at HammondCare since September 1 amid a time of upheaval in the industry. He has told of his own family’s care journey since announcing he would join the sector.
He said a proactive regulator with well-trained and experienced assessors was needed for the industry, to focus on systemic issues within a transparent and accountable processes.
He called for community values around aged care to change, arguing higher expectations for the lives of our seniors will pave the way for improved overall standards.
“A crisis in aged care is ultimately a crisis in how we all value older people and ageing,” he said.
“When as a society we come to truly value our older people, I believe we will find the will to make sure the aged care sector has and is all it needs to provide care that meets and exceeds expectations.
“I think the Royal Commission is helping to shape this.”
He told Inside Ageing one of the surprising aspects of aged care was the widespread impact it has on so many Australians, with 1.3 million Australians receiving some form of aged care.
“When you consider the family and friends of those in care there is a large part of Australia that is deeply interested in the sector,” he said.
HammondCare has more than 4000 staff around the country, delivering home care and residential aged care. He said Australians should know more about aged care.
“I genuinely wish they knew the incredible stories of the wonderful care that is being provided every day,” he said.
“Yes, we need to address the well-known examples where this has fallen short but, in my short time in the sector I have seen many examples within HammondCare that are nothing short of inspiring.
“I feel very privileged to be working in such an organisation as I am sure many are across the sector. We need to tell the good stories as there is much to be proud of and the care that is being provided.”