Sean Rooney says aged care sector must commit to action – community awareness campaign on its way?

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The LASA CEO has flagged a new era of “community, commitment and collaboration” ahead of the release of the Royal Commission’s Final Report in February 2021 and what promises to be recommendations with far-reaching consequences for the aged care sector.

Opening the peak body’s Ten Days of Congress yesterday morning, Mr Rooney noted that the sector has undergone one of its longest and “most testing” years in generations.

With 20 weeks until the Royal Commissioners hand the findings of their two-year enquiry to the Federal Government, the CEO warned that what the sector chooses to “do next” will have “far-reaching impacts”.

Community perceptions of aged care must be changed, says LASA CEO

Despite the Royal Commission finding that providers had been placed in an “impossible situation” by the 2016 ACFI cuts in recent years – and direct care hours had increased last year – Mr Rooney said COVID had turned the “cracks in the aged care system into chasms in certain places”.

In spite of providers trying to do their best since the pandemic began in February, he added that the Government’s competency in preparing the sector has been questioned, resulting in an “ugly blame game” in the media that was both “inappropriate” and “unhelpful”.

The CEO told the audience it was clear that community perceptions towards aged care services were predominately negative and this must be resolved.

“I believe that perception will only change when we change,” he said.

Sector must fight “inertia” in the system

He cautioned that the sector would need to fight against the “inertia” in the current system to change the Government’s approach and attitude to aged care.

Referring to LASA’s collaboration with other provider organisations to launch a PR campaign to lobby politicians on aged care, Mr Rooney says LASA’s focus is now on working together to explain to the community the value that aged care brings to the nation and also to bring the Government to account.

“Despite the traumas of 2020, we are at a pivotal point,” he said.

This would require a commitment to action, he added – and a community awareness campaign to ensure a better aged care system is realised.

“We need to have strong collaborations in place,” he stated.

Sector’s leaders “tired” in 2019

It was a rousing speech – but we can’t help but be reminded of the CEO panel at last year’s workforce hearings for the Royal Commission which told the Commissioners that many in the sector are “tired”.

This was before a year dominated by a global pandemic and widespread media attention on the sector.

The PR campaign being devised by the peaks will need to not only engage the community and Government – it will need to inspire the sector’s staff and management too.

Can it achieve this goal?

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