/ 02 March 2021

Aged care Royal Commission case for change

Fundamental reform of the aged care system is required and the federal government must lead the change, Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Tony Pagone said yesterday as PM Scott Morrison made public the final report from the inquiry into the quality and safety of the sector. Titled Care, Dignity and Respect, the report outlines 148 wide-ranging recommendations that Commissioners say will take 5-years to implement to help older Aussies “live an active, self-determined and meaningful life in a safe and caring environment that allows for dignified living in old age.”

Well, Briggs and Pagone say a lot of work has to be done… They uncovered outrageous examples of neglect, abuse and mismanagement within the system. Yesterday, they said at least a third of people accessing aged care services had experienced substandard care, and almost half had concerns about those in charge of their care. That’s why Commissioners say new legislation that “puts older people first, enshrining their rights and providing a universal entitlement for high quality and safe care” is required. From there, the sector’s oversight, governance and staffing arrangements, service accessibility and funding models need a complete overhaul, they say. So, pretty much everything… Unusually, the Commissioners’ opinions differed on some recommendations. “But we both strongly conclude that fundamental change is needed,” said Pagone.

Except for one thing – how much it will cost to fix things. Neither the Royal Commission nor PM Scott Morrison could answer that yesterday. But the PM said there was a clear need for “generational change”, and an immediate injection of  $452.2 million will start the process with the next steps to be outlined when the Federal Budget is delivered in May. Labor’s Aged Care spokesperson Clare O’Neil said Morrison’s response doesn’t fill her with much confidence. “I’m really worried this will join the 21 other major reports the government has received during their time in office which have told them some variation on the themes that came out in the final report today,” she said yesterday.

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