Quit the chatter, act on reform

Quit the chatter, act on reform .

Photo: Quit the chatter, act on reform .

Older Australians seeking improvements in aged care services have been urged to speak up at the National Aged Care Conference in Adelaide yesterday.

Professor Peter Shergold (pictured), the newly appointed Aged Care Reform Implementation Council (ACRIC) chairman, encouraged consumers to challenge the sector.

“[We need to say], don’t tell me this package is good; show me. Don’t claim these measures will create a fairer and equitable society; prove it. Don’t talk; act,” he urged.

DPS News joined delegates as Professor Shergold spoke at the conference, organised by the Department of Health and Ageing, to share ideas and thoughts on the federal government’s $3.7 billion Living Longer. Living Better aged care reform package.

Unveiled in April by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, Living Longer. Living Better is a 10-year plan designed to reshape aged care, including a boost to home care, facing workforce challenges and tackling the dementia epidemic.

The two-day conference attracted more than 1,000 delegates to hear from leading experts and advocates in aged care, including Alzheimer’s Australia president, Ita Buttrose, and Ambassador for Ageing, Noeline Brown.

ACRIC will oversee the delivery of the federal government’s Living Longer. Living Better aged care reform package, working closely with the aged care sector through the transition.

“Governments often promise, but do their words follow-through?” Professor Shergold asked in his first official presentation as ACRIC chairman.

“We know aged care reform is expensive and we know aged care costs are increasing. I see that the Council’s role is to help ensure the best social rates of return on that investment.

“My strong sense is that talking about public policy is relatively easy, but designing public policy is hard and implementing it is even harder,” he confessed.

However, Professor Shergold promised to deliver the Living Longer. Living Better reforms “on schedule and on budget, but most importantly deliver it to the raised expectations of the Australian community”.

“We will be vigilant, careful, action-orientated and flexible. We will be focused on outcomes rather than hung up on process, and performance, not compliance, will be our benchmark,” he said.

He added: “We will work with the sector to manage the transition and our focus will be on the people who make aged care happen.”

In the Minister’s address, Mr Butler said Living Longer. Living Better “deals with all of those challenges and expectations of what aged care should look like, not just for the next few years, but decades to come”.

“Older Australians said to us they didn’t want a system purely built around nursing homes. They want a system which has the objective of allowing them to stay in their homes for as long as possible, for the remainder of their lives.

“We need to do better in attracting and retaining a good and dedicated workforce... if we don’t improve conditions and wages, we’re simply not going to get there,” he added.

The conference, which ends today, is being streamed live online, to better reach those unable to attend the conference.

For more information on the National Aged Care Conference, or to access the live streaming or download the recordings, visit www.conference2012.agedcare.gov.au.

What is the number one aged care reform you would like to see implemented? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.