Leading Age Services Australia, the voice of aged care, CEO Sean Rooney says the Royal Commission into aged care announced today must focus on making our aged care system better.
“We all want a safe and high quality aged care system. Our older Australians need it and they deserve it,” Mr Rooney said.
“Regrettably in our industry there have been occasions where there have been unacceptable failures in care.
“Where there has been failures they are quite properly the subject of investigation and sanction.
“Our industry is absolutely committed to working to eliminate the risk of failures and to continuously improve standards of care, to ensure that the aged care system meets the changing needs and expectations of older Australians, and the wider community.”
Mr Rooney said that around 2,000 people in Australia turn 65 every week, and a further 1,000 turn 85 each week.
“1.3million older Australians access services across our aged care system every year. These services are delivered by around 430,000 aged care workers and volunteers who, by and large, day in and day out, deliver the best care for older Australians that they possibly can.
“The 2017 independent review of the sector conducted by Carnell & Paterson acknowledged this when it found that ‘in general, residential aged care providers delivered a high standard of care’.
Mr Rooney said LASA has been advocating to successive Governments that making Australia’s aged care system better is an issue of national importance, as there is no greater challenge for the growing number of older Australians and their families, the Australian Government and the age services industry, than the issues related to supporting older Australians to age well.
“We have repeatedly told Government that the aged care system settings have not kept pace with the increase in demand for care and services, driven by the growing numbers of older Australians in our communities.”
Mr Rooney said there is currently a mismatch between the needs and expectations of older Australians and the wider community, and the services that aged care providers are funded to deliver.
“A recent PwC report estimated that on current projections an additional 226,000 residential aged care places may be required by 2040 at a capital cost of just under $50 billion. However, over recent years, successive Australian Governments have reduced residential aged care funding by an estimated $3 billion.
“Independent analysis by StewartBrown estimates that 43 per cent of Australia’s residential aged care facilities in 2018 are operating at a loss. This situation is even more dire in regional and rural areas where three in every five facilities are in the red. This is clearly not sustainable.
“There are also around 110,000 older Australians waiting in the national queue for home care services. These are people who have been assessed as requiring care at home, but who currently don’t receive the level of support recommended, or even worse don’t get any care at all.
“If we are to meet the growing and changing needs and expectations of the increasing numbers of older Australians, we must get a number of things right simultaneously, including access to services, funding of services and quality of services.
“Adequate funding and support structures to better enable, develop and grow our aged care workforce, and implement optimal staffing models, are also critical.
“Whilst recent Governments have made some changes to the aged care system, review after review has been conducted and successive Governments have failed to respond effectively.
“The issues of ageing and aged care are issues of national importance. They affect all Australians.
“Australia needs a high performing, respected and sustainable aged care system that delivers accessible, affordable, quality care and services for all older Australians.
“Many of the solutions to realise these outcomes are already on the table. Whilst the Royal Commission is underway we must press on with addressing key workforce and funding issues, and not lose sight of making the system better right now.
“This Royal Commission will play a key role in identifying how to make Australia’s aged care system better,” Mr Rooney said.
Read Sean Rooney’s Opinion piece: Caring for Older Australians is an issue of National importance