Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) and Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) have welcomed the tabling in federal parliament of two new pieces of legislation which they say shows the Government is serious about fixing aged care.
ACCPA interim CEO Paul Sadler said ACCPA urges parliament to quickly pass the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 which among other things establishes an Independent Pricing Authority to set the price of aged care services and introduces a new residential care funding model called the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC).
“We look forward to working through the implementation detail particularly regarding the level of transparency around the Independent Pricing Authority and the rigour of the methodology for the star ratings,” he said.
OPAN’s manager of policy and systemic advocacy, Samantha Edmonds said the legislation will work to ensure the right level of care for older people.
“Many older people have increasingly complex health issues and comorbidities when they enter residential care,” she said.
“Having the right level of clinical skill to provide support 24 hours a day is essential. We know health-related incidents don’t always occur during the day.”
Sadler said most of the schedules in the Royal Commission Response Bill were scrutinised by a select committee in the previous Parliament, so ACCPA is comfortable to support its passage quickly.
“We also support in-principle the delivery of the Government’s election commitments through the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022 and look forward to the opportunity to scrutinise the implementation of these measures.
“For example, ACCPA is keen that we take account of staff shortages in how we introduce 24/7 RNs right across Australia, and the impact of home care pricing changes on consumers and service providers.
“We look forward to working with Government to ensure more staff, more funding and more transparency from all parties to deliver a world class aged care system for older Australians.”
OPAN welcomed the Government’s other reform measures, such as the cap on management and administrative fees and the block on exit fees for people who access home care.
Older people often raise concerns about these costs with OPAN, Edmonds said, especially in regard to the disparity in fees across providers.
“OPAN also welcomes the introduction of the new residential aged care funding model,” Edmonds said.
“A funding model that supports a consumer-directed approach within the residential setting is a much-needed improvement.
“We encourage the Government to consider expanding the new Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) model to encompass social and leisure activities, which are crucial to older people’s health and well-being.”
The new legislation also extends the Serious Incident Reporting Scheme (SIRS) into home care and supports the development of an enforceable code of conduct for all aged care staff.
“OPAN welcomes the application of the code to governing persons, who set the culture of an organisation and therefore should be held to the same, if not higher, level of accountability,” Edmonds said.
“To be relevant, the code must be linked to the Charter of Aged Care Rights and the Aged Care Quality Standards.
“We also support the additional powers given to the commissioner in relation to failure to comply with the code, responding to alleged breaches of the code and enforcing compliance with the code.
The reform of the aged care system is a complex challenge, Edmonds said.
“We must now come together to implement these changes in consultation with older people.
“OPAN looks forward to working with the Government and other stakeholders to improve the lives of older people,” she said.