The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) is calling upon sector stakeholders to work together to ensure older people are not adversely affected by changes to the conditions of aged care workers that came into effect on July 1.
“It is a positive development that aged care workers are receiving more support through recent changes to the industry award, but we must ensure that older people are not worse off,” OPAN CEO Craig Gear said.
“We are already experiencing distressed calls from older people who have been impacted by the new standards set by the Fair Work Commission for casual and part-time home care workers.
“In one particularly troubling case, the service provider suggested their care recipient take out a reverse mortgage to meet the shortfall in costs. This is obviously not acceptable.”
The changes to the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services (SCHADS) industry award, which include two-hour minimum shifts, travel costs between jobs and a fee for “broken” shifts, are likely to affect more than 200,000 older people who receive home care packages.
“OPAN supports improved conditions to attract and retain skilled aged care workers,” Gear said.
“But these changes must be appropriately funded to ensure older people are not worse off.
“This might require additional supplements in rural and remote areas, where there are increased travel times, to cover morning and evening shifts.”
Gear also urged service providers to use effective rostering and other, innovative solutions to accommodate the needs of older people, many of whom can remain independent, in their own home, with short, regular support visits.
“The delivery of the two-hour block does not have to be with the same client and it doesn’t have to be at the same location, so it’s up to the providers to find a solution that works best.”
OPAN has been working with the Department of Health and Aged Care on a set of Home Aged Care Fact Sheets, which have just been released.
Gear also reminded older people that changes to their home care package could not be made without their consent and that OPAN’s advocates offered free, independent, confidential support.
“We urge older Australians to contact OPAN on 1800 700 600 for free support if they have concerns.”