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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Peak aged care groups unite for change

Six of Australia’s peak aged care advocacy bodies have united to lobby for improved quality care for older people in Australia.

The alliance includes Carers Australia, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Dementia Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), National Seniors Australia and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN).

COTA Australia chief executive, Ian Yates says the sector needs an overhaul.

“Structurally, culturally and legislatively we have the opportunity to rebuild our aged care system so that it places the needs and preferences of consumers at its very centre,” said Mr Yates. 

“Older Australians must have both choice and control over the supports they receive, whether that’s at home, in specialist housing, or in a residential aged care setting. Above all, the system must ensure every Australian enjoys the highest quality of life as we age.”

Carers Australia CEO, Liz Callaghan said the current Aged Care Royal Commission had “righty shone a light” on issues that matter to the community, including family and friend carers.

“Future reform must address these 10 points in order to meet community expectations and deliver on quality of care,” she said.

The 10 ‘shared principles’ put forward by the alliance are:

  1. An improved Aged Care Act;
  2. An aged care system where care is guaranteed within 30 days;
  3. Full transparency and easy-to-understand performance indicators so consumers are informed when making decisions;
  4. A workforce that is trained, registered and qualified to be providing quality care;
  5. Better support and recognition for unpaid, informal carers;
  6. Easy to understand information and local solutions;
  7. Provide the aged care regulator with enough resources to take robust action when protecting consumers;
  8. Services that are inclusive, culturally safe and sensitive;
  9. A new funding model that ensures adequate taxpayer funding, better control for consumers over their funding, independent pricing and transparency around how funds are being spent by providers;
  10. Aged care that is integrated better with other health and wellbeing services.

Mr Yates said the 10 shared principles would help older Australians get the support they choose, when and where they need it and be treated with dignity and respect, by an aged care workforce that is trained and equipped to provide the standard of care older Australians and their families expect and deserve.

“It’s time to overhaul a system that puts the needs of providers and bureaucracy above the human needs of every older Australian,” he said.

“Structurally, culturally and legislatively we have the opportunity to rebuild our aged care system so that it places the needs and preferences of consumers at its very centre.

“Older Australians must have both choice and control over the supports they receive – whether that’s at home, in specialist housing, or in a residential aged care setting. Above all, the system must ensure every Australian enjoys the highest quality of life as we age.”

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said it was also vital for the human rights of people living with dementia, their families and carers, to be reflected in a “reimagined” aged care system.

“Around 459,000 Australians are living with dementia. Consistent and equitable access to quality dementia care must be a cornerstone of aged care, and we must focus on building the capacity of our workforce to understand and support people with dementia,” Ms McCabe said.

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