Australia’s aged care system delivers but there is more work to do
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney says providers of age services work hard to care and support older Australians and their families, during what can be very difficult times in their lives. By and large this is done with the compassion and professionalism you would expect in a world class age services system.
“The overwhelming majority of aged care providers in Australia are delivering excellent services, underpinned by dedicated and professional staff,” Mr Rooney said.
Mr Rooney acknowledges that no system is perfect and there are times when things do not go as planned.
“On occasion there are individual instances where the care and support provided has fallen short of expectations. However, the number of these instances must be balanced against the fact that over 1.3 million people receive aged care each year,” Mr Rooney said.
“In 2016/17 there were 4,713 complaints received across 1.3million people supported by the aged care system, representing about 0.4%. Of these, early resolution was achieved for 4228 or 92% of finalised complaints.
“For the same period, there were 3,656 complaints for 200,000 people in residential care beds – a rate of 1.8%.”
Mr Rooney said despite the relatively low numbers, it is important to acknowledge issues when they arise, and it is equally important to recognise that these incidents are unfortunate and unacceptable, and are not indicative of our industry overall.
“At the heart of our industry is the fundamental relationship between those providing care and those receiving care. This relationship is where expectations are set and met. In cases where problems arise that cannot be resolved, as an industry we encourage consumers to speak up and seek support from the Independent Aged Care Complaints Commissioner,” Mr Rooney said.
“Our industry welcomes the transparency provided by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner as this helps to drive improvement and increase consumer confidence.”
Mr Rooney said older Australians and their families should be assured that the quality of care and service they are receiving meets stringent national standards of quality and safety.
“In addition to existing quality control and accreditation processes, LASA welcomes the Federal Government’s work to develop a Single Aged Care Quality Framework, informed by stakeholder input,” Mr Rooney said.
“This framework will include a single, rigorous set of aged care standards for all aged care services and is anticipated to be introduced on 1 July 2018.
“The upcoming independent Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes will also provide an important opportunity to reflect on what works well in the system and where there are areas for improvement.”
Mr Rooney said the aged care system in Australia is a growing and changing sector.
“Currently, 1.3 million people receive aged care services in Australia. By 2050 this number will increase by over 250% to be around 3.5 million,” Mr Rooney said.
“In his independent review of aged care reforms released earlier this month, David Tune noted that aged care in Australia is “evolving into a system that better supports the well-being of older people and the delivery of care in ways that respect their dignity and support their independence. There is an increased focus on consumer choice and control.”
Mr Rooney said the aged care industry continues to work with government, consumer groups and other stakeholders to ensure a safe, fair and sustainable system is developed into the future.
“A focus on clear, quality outcomes and innovation to drive new models of care, along with adequate and stable funding, and workforce development strategies, are among the highest priorities,” Mr Rooney said.
“The system we have is one that is overwhelmingly delivering the care that older Australians need and deserve. But it is also a system that recognises there are challenges and is committed to continuous improvement.”