Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the voice of aged care, thanks the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety for investigating all elements of Australia’s broken aged care system.

The final report reveals that too many times older Australians have been let down by a system found to be under-resourced to provide consistently high standards of care and support.

As the largest aged care service provider representative body, LASA believes there is no place in our sector for sub-standard care, mistreatment or abuse.

“These failures are unacceptable and we are sorry for the harm they have caused to older Australians and their loved ones,” said LASA CEO Sean Rooney.

“Sadly, in a sector that has over 360,000 workers delivering care and services to over 1.3 million older Australians there have been too many examples of individuals and services who have failed people in their care.

“In recent times we have made changes to raise standards and we are continuing to do so.  We are committed to doing better.

The report also identified examples of passionate and dedicated aged care workers and services doing all they can, in challenging circumstances and with limited support, to make a positive difference in the lives of older Australians.

“The report is one of national importance. It calls out to the nation to demonstrate the value we place on older Australians by reimagining aged care in Australia,” said Mr Rooney.

“This is so we can realise an aged care system that is adequately resourced and enabled to deliver the care and services older Australians need and deserve, and that aged care workers and services want to deliver.

“We must have a system that respects the rights of individuals and is focused on older people’s quality of life – a system that provides accessible, affordable care and services, available to older Australians when and where they need it, delivered by well-trained and well-paid staff, who work in a high-performing and sustainable aged care system.”

Mr Rooney said there were variances in the Commissioners’ opinions.

“They agree on the majority of important recommendations and have analysed so much over two years of potentially life-changing work for our elders and their families,” he said.

“The report must drive Australia and our governments to come together to achieve overall world-leading care.

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s words that we must have generational change and to alter the paradigm of aged care which has existed for decades.

“We look forward to the new Aged Care Act, based on respect for people’s requirements and a needs-based aged care system centring on individuals.

“The immediate Government investment of over $450 million is greatly needed, particularly the funds for residential care, where the majority of homes have been operating under significant financial distress for many years, impacting their ability to maintain standards while fighting to keep their doors open.

“Home care is vital, with recommendations to reduce the queue and the Government highlighting more transparency.

“We welcome higher levels of staffing for older Australians in home and residential care, to provide the care that our elders need.”

Whilst the Royal Commission has been underway, our sector has sought to improve standards through the implementation of new Aged Care Quality and Safety Standards, a Charter of Rights for Aged Care Residents, and an industry Code of Practice.

At the same time, LASA has introduced a range of initiatives and programs aimed at supporting our Members to improve quality care, governance, workforce, innovation and leadership in their services.

“Our sector is trying to be the best we can but we cannot do this alone.  We need the system settings around policy, regulation and resourcing to enable and support providers to deliver the best care possible,” Mr Rooney said.

“Australia spends less than half of what other comparable countries spend on aged care, and getting the support for the system right must be part of the solution.

“This compels us to have a national conversation about how we pay for quality care and services for our elders, including progressive means testing and considering components of user-pays for people who have the ability to equitably contribute to the costs of their care.”

LASA is a committed member of the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) which is conducting the national campaign ‘It’s Time to Care About Aged Care’.

The campaign’s aim is to ensure that the once-in-a-generation opportunity presented by the Royal Commission to transform the aged care system is not missed.

The campaign includes the It’s time to care about aged care report, a national petition and engagements with Members of Parliament in the ‘oldest’ electorates in Australia.

Looking forward, we must realise the transformation heralded by the Royal Commission’s recommendations and we need to find an equally transformative approach to implementation.

The Royal Commission report proposes detailed timeframes and transitional arrangements, which will be vital to achieving the reforms that older Australians need.

LASA proposes establishing an Aged Care Reform Taskforce (ACRT) to design, plan, coordinate, and evaluate a comprehensive response to the Royal Commission reform program. Importantly, the taskforce will be accountable for timely and effective delivery of the program.

“Significantly, the taskforce will provide a collective and effective forum to resolve reform implementation matters as and when they arise,” Mr Rooney said.

“I suggest the responsible Federal Minister chairs the ACRT, with members being drawn from consumer groups, workforce representatives and provider peak bodies, alongside primary care and acute care representatives and senior officials from governments.

“The Royal Commission has provided our nation with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to address the needs and respect of older Australians who created our country.

“We must do all we can to translate this opportunity into meaningful outcomes for older Australians, now and into the future.”

Media contacts: Nick Way or Linda Baraciolli 08 6311 7809