On Tuesday 9 October Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
This follows more than 5,000 submissions received from aged care consumers, families, carers, aged care workers, health professionals and providers.
The Honourable Justice Joseph McGrath and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO have been appointed Commissioners. Justice McGrath is a judge of the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Ms Briggs is a former Australian Public Service Commissioner.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the Terms of Reference reflected the views of LASA’s Members that the Royal Commission needs to focus on making Australia’s aged care system better.
“LASA strongly asserted that the Royal Commission have a clear outcome to direct its focus and effort on ensuring Australia has a high performing, respected and sustainable aged care system that delivers accessible, affordable, quality care and services for all older Australians. LASA believes the Terms of Reference provide for this outcome,” he said.
“LASA also welcomes the Terms of Reference recognition of the importance of building a national culture of respect for ageing and older persons. This is fundamental to Australia as a nation better supporting the growing numbers of older Australians to age well.”
The Terms of Reference also demonstrate a commitment to relationship-based, person-centred care, whilst also providing scope to consider the many positive examples of high quality care delivered by thousands of dedicated people, volunteers and families every day.”
LASA says it is vital that the Commission also closely examines the impact of the funding levels of Australia’s aged care system, including but not limited to issues of sustainability.
Mr Rooney said the onus for strengthening aged care does not just rest with the Government and the aged care industry, as Australian families and the community also play a role in improving the system.
“The Terms of Reference specifically include often overlooked areas of care such as mental health, personal care and end of life care.
“The inclusion of the interface with other services accessed by people receiving aged care services, including primary health care services, is very pleasing, as this interface has also been shown to be crucial to realising better care outcomes,” Mr Rooney said.
Mr Rooney said it was important that the Royal Commission be open and transparent, providing a forum for all stakeholders to tell their stories with regards to their experiences of Australia’s aged care system.
“A commitment to openness and transparency will afford all involved in the Royal Commission process an opportunity to hear first-hand the personal stories of individuals including older Australians, their families, and aged care staff and their organisations, on their lived experience of the aged care system.”
He said making Australia’s aged care system better is an issue of national importance, as there is no greater challenge for the growing number of older Australians and their families, the Australian Government and the age services industry, than the issues related to supporting older Australians to age well.
“Many of the solutions to realise these outcomes are already on the table. Whilst the Royal Commission is underway we must press on with addressing key workforce and funding issues, and not lose sight of making the system better right now.
“This Royal Commission will play a key role in identifying how to make Australia’s aged care system better,” Mr Rooney said.
“We offer our full support to The Honourable Justice Joseph McGrath and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO who have been appointed Commissioners,” Mr Rooney said.
Aged Care Services Australia CEO Pat Sparrow said: “The broad and inclusive scope of these terms of reference recognise that aged care services touch the lives of older Australians and their families in meaningful and important ways but also recognises there is complexity to questions around how care is delivered to individuals with varying care needs.”
“It is pleasing to see the Terms of Reference acknowledge the need to look into all aspects of aged care; issues specific to remote, rural or regional areas; caring for those with chronic or complex health needs like dementia, as well as hearing from younger people with disabilities living in residential care.
“Also underpinning the scope of this inquiry is an acknowledgement that Australia’s population demographics require us as a community to consider how we can assure the quality of care we expect for our elders in a sustainable and viable way into the future. Innovative models of care, increasing use of technology and workforce issues are all in-scope and important considerations in those inquiries.”
The peak body reiterated the Government’s hopes that the Royal Commission and the many important national conversations around ageing and aged care that will take place between now and the final report in 2020 – and beyond – will help to build a stronger national culture of respect for older Australians.
“As aged care providers, respect for our elders is at the heart of what we do. There is no room in our community for poor or inattentive care and we have zero tolerance for criminal abuse, assault or negligence.
“We share the community’s desire for older Australians to be able to choose from a range of quality aged care services that provide the compassionate and dignified care they need and deserve.
The Royal Commission’s interim report is to be provided by 31 October 2019, and its final report no later than 30 April 2020.
Further information about the Terms of Reference, as well as plans for submissions and hearings, can be found on the Royal Commission website.