Australia’s aged care system ‘substandard’: Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 1 March 2021: Australia’s aged care system is “substandard” and “The Australian community is entitled to expect better.” This is the view of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Report tabled in the Parliament today. The politically damaging report exposes the current system as catering to the funding requirements of aged care providers rather than the care needs of older people, gives 148 recommendations to overhaul the system.

In a media conference televised live on the ABC, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, the “findings of the Commission are shocking, we propose to deal with it.”

The Royal Commissioners has made 148 wide-ranging recommendations, including:

A new Aged Care Act that puts older people first, enshrining their rights and providing a universal entitlement for high quality and safe care based on assessed need.
An integrated system for the long-term support and care of older people and their ongoing community engagement.
A System Governor to provide leadership and oversight and shape the system.
An Inspector-General of Aged Care to identify and investigate systemic issues and to publish reports of its findings.
A plan to deliver, measure and report on high quality aged care, including independent standard-setting, a general duty on aged care providers to ensure quality and safe care, and a comprehensive approach to quality measurement, reporting and star ratings.
Up to date and readily accessible information about care options and services, and care finders to support older people to navigate the aged care system.
A new aged care program that is responsive to individual circumstances and provides an intuitive care structure, including social supports, respite care, assistive technology and home modification, care at home and residential care. In particular, the new program will provide greater access to care at home, including clearing the home care waiting list.
A more restorative and preventative approach to care, with increased access to allied health care in both home and residential aged care.
Increased support for development of ‘small household’ models of accommodation.
An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care pathway to provide culturally safe and flexible aged care to meet the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people wherever they live.
Improved access to health care for older people, including a new primary care model, access to multidisciplinary outreach services and a Senior Dental Benefits Scheme.
Equity of access to services for older people with disability and measures to ensure younger people do not enter or remain in residential aged care.
Professionalising the aged care workforce through changes to education, training, wages, labour conditions and career progression.

Registration of personal care workers.

A minimum quality and safety standard for staff time in residential aged care, including an appropriate skills mix and daily minimum staff time for registered nurses, enrolled nurses and personal care workers for each resident, and at least one registered nurse on site at all times.
Strengthened provider governance arrangements to ensure independence, accountability and transparency.
A strengthened quality regulator.
Funding to meet the actual cost of high quality care and an independent Pricing Authority to determine the costs of delivering it.
A simpler and fairer approach to personal contributions and means testing, including removal of co-contributions toward care, reducing the high effective marginal tax rates that apply to many people receiving residential aged care, and phasing out Refundable Accommodation Deposits.
Financing arrangements drawing on a new aged care levy to deliver appropriate funding on a sustainable basis.

Commissioner Briggs writes:

“We have elected to provide the Government with two options for the governance of the aged care system, and the impact of those options necessarily flows through into other recommendations. However, this is a secondary issue to the quality and safety task at hand, which dominates our recommendations and, importantly, on which we agree.”

The Royal Commissioners have recommended that the Australian Government report to Parliament by 31 May 2021 its response to their recommendations.

The Final Report comprises 5 volumes.

Volume 1: Summary and recommendations
Volume 2: The current system
Volume 3: The new system
Volume 4: Hearing overviews and case studies
Volume 5: Appendices

VIEW THE FINAL REPORT HERE

The Royal Commission got 10, 574 submissions, 6,800 phone calls, 641 witnesses came for hearings and has recommended a new Aged Care Act.

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