Blunter message from COTA-led group for Government to commit to major aged care reform in next 12 to 18 months

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In a possible coincidence, 12 aged care consumer peaks released their joint response to the Royal Commission’s Final Report the same day as the AACC – but with a blunter message for Government.

You can read the full 21-page statement here.

The group – which includes the Older Persons Advocacy Network, National Seniors, Dementia Australia and Carers Australia – is concerned the Government will cherry pick a few recommendations now and consider the rest later.

“The last thing Australians deserve is the Government kicking the can down the road on many of the key changes we need,” COTA Australia CEO Ian Yates AM, said.

“That will not wash with the many hundreds of thousands of older Australians who are looking to this Government to deliver them hope that they, and their families, will enjoy a radically better aged care system than the one we have today.”

“The Government must not delay reform. We are sending a clear message to the Morrison Government that older Australians expect action now.”

The statement also highlights key actions for the next 12 to 18 months, including increased transparency from aged care providers, minimum staffing levels, wage increases for workers, stronger powers for the regulator, and a new rights-based Aged Care Act.

Critically, the alliance recommends an Implementation Task Force (pictured) – separate to the Royal Commission recommendations – with an Independent Chair to drive the reforms, plus independent members and senior Government officials.

“This multi-partisan forum would provide a structured mechanism for continued bipartisan support for aged care reforms,” they state.

Other key areas include:

  • Abolishing the Aged Care Approvals Round/bed licenses to give older people control of their residential care funding and put competitive pressure on poor providers.
  • Immediately increasing home care and home support funding; ensure a maximum 30-day wait period for home care by no later than December 2022; and implement a single Care at Home program that provides individualised care by 2023.
  • Requiring providers to publish real-time data on staffing, quality performance, financial information, and consumer experience.
  • Establishing an Independent Pricing Authority just for aged care.
  • Initiating a program of independent Care Finders to help navigate aged care.
  • Developing a comprehensive workforce development plan to ensure there are the right numbers and mix of better paid, better skilled workers.
  • Developing a funding model that ensures sufficient taxpayer funding balanced with consumer contributions.
  • Committing to a timetable detailing when reforms will be commenced and implemented.

Mr Yates also penned a passionate letter to COTA supporters, calling on them to send in their own ideas on what should be prioritised and asking for volunteers to be a case study of how the system works – or doesn’t work.

He stressed that the Government will be challenged to fund the recommendations in full, particularly in terms of workforce – but says the Government must deliver if it wants to meet older Australians’ needs.

“In the coming year, the Morrison Government can give older Australians more choice, control and transparency in aged care than they have ever been allowed before,” he said.

“This is Australia’s ‘line in the sand’ moment for giving us the aged care system we deserve and expect.”