In February, the two-year-long Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released a final report with 148 recommendations to overhaul the aged care system in Australia. The path to reforming the system isn’t as straightforward or clear as many hoped, making the journey to a reformed, updated, and effective system a complex and confusing one. In this article, we’ll look at the aims of the commission, several key aspects of the report, and how to take the next step into sustainable, compliant senior care.
Key Takeaways from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
The report emphasised a need to establish clear, comprehensive care rights for elderly people, including support based on their needs and preferences, and entitlement to care. This shift from the ration-based system to a rights-based system will bring aged care more in line with Medicare, ensuring independent assessments of care needs, reducing waiting lists for care, and placing multiple care packages under the umbrella of a single program. By making aged care a right, older adults are empowered to personalise their care according to their needs and wants, creating more control and independence.
To become sustainable and effective, the working conditions and skills of caregivers for the elderly need to be improved. This would take the form of increased wages, a new national registration scheme for personal care workers, and setting minimum skills requirements at Certificate III. This will also mean introducing minimum staff time with residents to be set at 200 minutes per resident per day by July 1, 2022, with a minimum of 40 of those allocated minutes to be spent with a registered nurse. Aged care facilities will have to increase staff reporting to include staffing hours per day along with a breakdown of how residents have spent their time between nursing care and personal care. The performance will be allocated a star rating that will be published alongside quality indicators.
The report found significant evidence of ineffective governance and weak regulatory controls, affecting the quality and consistency of aged care. With stronger governance, it is anticipated that aged care can become more widespread and available across the country, that providers will be held to a higher standard of care, and that service gaps within the system can be more easily identified and solved.
With this shift will a need for higher fees and funding will come, with the proposed new funding model providing universal funding for care services. This will remove refundable accommodation deposits and the need for co-payments/co-contributions for medical or care services. However, ordinary costs of living (cleaning the home, etc), will be separate. While the report does not go into detail on the cost of all these changes, the expectation is that government should provide more funding, possibly through a levy of 1% on personal taxable income or an aged-care levy.
Navigating Australia’s Changing Aged Care System
Long-regarded as behind the times, Australia’s aged care system is now facing dramatic transformation. To succeed, facilities need the resources and expertise to manage financial performance through the transition and emerge successfully on the other side. At Light ARC, we have extensive experience in assisting aged care facilities with budgeting, forecasting, planning, financial reporting, and optimising overheads.
In addition, we are offering a webinar on sustainability in the aged care industry and navigating the changes ahead. This will take place over Zoom on Thursday, 17th June 2021 at 10:30. We hope to connect with you there. For more information, please contact us today.