The federal government has committed to spending $452 million as part of a major five-year plan to reform Australia’s aged care system.
This is the immediate response and experts are suggesting the price tag could be upwards of $20 billion if all of the Royal Commission’s recommendations are implemented.
This initial additional funding in the aged care sector will be spent on immediate measures to address the key issues highlighted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Final Report. The comprehensive report addresses some “fundamental systemic flaws” with the way the Australian aged care system is designed and governed.
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, has stated that the government’s response to the Royal Commission Final Report will be “driven by the principle of respect and care” and underpinned by the following five broad pillars:
If you are one of the many Australians choosing to stay in your own home as you age you’ll be happy to know that the Australian government has acknowledged this increasing demand and will be following the recommendations of the Royal Commission to provide greater support to those who choose to access care at home.
One of the key recommendations in the Royal Commission’s final report was a responsive new aged care program with an intuitive care structure, including social supports, respite care, assistive technology and home modification. Whilst the new program outlined in the report encompassed both care at home and residential care, greater access to care at home was highlighted as a priority, with major importance placed on clearing the home care waiting list.
Another key recommendation is to have the current home care package waitlist (estimated at 100,000 people) cleared by the end of 2021 and moving toward a program where no one has to wait more than one month for their package.
Minister Hunt said: “the Australian government will immediately invest more than $18 million to enhance the oversight of the government’s Home Care Packages Program to deliver better value for senior Australians and the Australian taxpayer.”
The government has also outlined their expectation that home care providers offer real value for money and their intent to put downward pressure on any unjustified administrative charges.
Registered Nurse and Prestige Inhome Care Founder, Nick McDonald, welcomes the news. He adds that Aussies should make sure they find out what basic daily care fees, case management fees and other potential hidden charges they could be facing when they talk to home care package providers.
McDonald says: “At Prestige, we’ve got one of the lowest admin fees in the industry, no basic daily care fees or exit fees. We believe you should be able to spend as much of your government subsidy on care as possible.”
McDonald is also heartened to hear that the government will be making the upskilling of the aged care workforce a priority. With more Australians being supported to stay living at home, we’ll see an increasing demand for skilled personal care workers (PCWs).
The federal government has vowed to inject $92 million into the sector in order to create over 18,000 places for workers over the next four years.
The Royal Commission’s Final Report recommended professionalising the aged care workforce through changes to education, training, wages, labour conditions and career progression.
The government funding will bolster activity to attract job seekers into the aged care sector. Employers will gain access to support and training for new recruits as part of the proposed new Home Care Workforce Support Program announced by the government.
McDonald says this support for aged care employers couldn’t come soon enough, especially at time when Prestige Inhome Care is planning its own upskilling program for aged care employees wishing to obtain qualifications in the industry.
At Prestige, we require all our personal care workers to have completed a Certificate III in Individual Care, Aged Care, Home or Community Care or a Certificate IV Aged Care or Community Care. It is fantastic to see that this benchmark will be mandated throughout the rest of the industry.
The government has also heeded the Royal Commission’s advice with regards to strengthening provider governance arrangements to ensure independence, accountability and transparency. The Prime Minister has confirmed that a new Aged Care Act will be drawn up to replace the Aged Care Act 1997.
McDonald says the most important thing to his clients at Prestige Inhome Care and their families is trust.
He says: “They are putting their loved one’s safety and quality of life in our hands. That’s why it’s so important that we treat them with the utmost respect and look after their parent or partner the way we would look after our own family member.
“This is the change we’ve all been waiting for. We should all be held accountable when it comes to looking after the most vulnerable in our community.”