Centre Alliance backs new Aged Care Act and greater oversight of sector

2 March 2021

Centre Alliance has welcomed the Aged Care Royal Commission’s focus on senior-centred care in its final report as well its recommendations for greater transparency, tougher oversight and improved training and registration of carers.

“The final report is comprehensive, and its recommendations are far reaching. The administrative mechanisms needed to deliver the solutions will need to be worked through but Centre Alliance welcomes the report’s demands for a complete rewrite of the Aged Care Act and an aged care system that is transparent and accountable for taxpayer funding so it delivers the actual care people need,” said Rebekha Sharkie, Federal Member for Mayo and Centre Alliance’s Aged Care Spokesperson.

“The current system is not working, and it needs a significant injection of funding to fix underlying problems.

“Whether that injection of funding is best met by an aged care levy is a matter Centre Alliance would have to investigate and consider the evidence.

“However, we do maintain that before you throw more money into aged care, the Government needs to stop the rorting.

“Our elderly people need value for money when it comes to actual personal care and those delivering the care need the right training and support and appropriate remuneration for caring for our elderly.

“I particularly welcome the report’s recommendation of a minimum staff time standard for residential care of at least 200 minutes per resident per day for the average resident, with at least 40 minutes of that staff time provided by a registered nurse, by July 2022, with an increase by 2024.

“For too long the Government and the sector have resisted staffing ratios, saying setting a minimum standard would make that standard the norm and prevent best practice.

“The evidence put before the Royal Commission is that our elderly have not received best practice care.”

Centre Alliance’s Health Spokesperson, Senator Stirling Griff, called for the funding transparency outlined in his Private Members’ legislation, the Aged Care Legislation Amendment (Financial Transparency) Bill 2020, to be implemented immediately as an interim measure prior to being included in the development of the new Aged Care Act.

"The Government can’t sit on developing a new Aged Care Act. They must immediately implement the transparency measures in our bill and also mandate the publishing of the key care indicators at a facility and group level," Senator Griff said.

"These would provide critical measures of resident well-being. Our elderly, their carers and families have the right to know these performance indicators and outliers need to lift their game, or exit the industry."

Centre Alliance is concerned the recommendation for more accessible information regarding service providers on My Aged Care doesn’t include costs.

“The current system has become a cash cow for some providers. Even when costs are known there is little accountability for ensuring they are reasonable," Senator Griff said.

“Centre Alliance welcomes the proposal for more financial oversight of the system, regardless of the type of authority established by the Government."

Centre Alliance also supports the recommended principles to underpin the new Aged Care Act, including certainty of receiving high quality support and care; support for older people to have a voice and a choice; support in care in the location they choose, if possible, and equity of access regardless of location or personal circumstances.

“I welcome the report’s acknowledgement that older people living in regional and remote Australia, including First Nations people, need equal and culturally appropriate access to care in their community; and that this care needs to be properly planned and sustainably resourced because there are glaring differences in economies of scale compared to metropolitan services,” Rebekha said.

“I was also happy to see the report mention the importance of access to dental care, an issue I have been campaigning about for a number of years. I advocated for a two-year, $1000 dental voucher and I would be pleased to see the report's recommendations implemented because dental health is so crucial to overall health.

“And I back the call for the national registration of carers and improved aged care workforce planning to meet the forecast demand.”

Centre Alliance also supports the report’s recommendations on the adequacy of specialist dementia units, the regulation of restrictive practices including the prescription of anti-psychotics in residential aged care, the collection of data for quality indicators and the recognition of the importance of high quality palliative care.

"The report said palliative care should not be seen as an optional extra and mentioned examples where the care provided to people in their last weeks and days of life was severely lacking," Senator Griff said.

"All senior Australians including those in residential aged care have a right to die with respect and their dignity maintained.

"With almost a third of people who enter residential aged care dying within one year of entering care senior Australians in care must have access to specialist palliative care services when they need it – the Government must make this a priority."

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