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Aged care industry prepares for the road ahead

Industry peak body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) held a webinar for their members last week, covering the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's Final Report and what it means for the sector, with speakers saying it comes down to three words - 'Aged Care Transformed'.

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Providers and experts in aged care provided their thoughts on the Royal Commission's Final Report, and discussed the expected road ahead to make meaningful change in the industry. [Source: iStock]

The webinar, LASA's Aged Care Transformed Virtual Forum - Getting from here to there, was a virtual event held on 9-10 March for LASA members.

Providers and experts in aged care provided their thoughts on the over 3,000 page-long Royal Commission report, which detailed what Commissioners believe is required for Australia to have a quality aged care system, and how providers can prepare for the changes that will be necessary over the coming years.

Chief Executive Officer of LASA, Sean Rooney, said during his closing remarks that, "It is very clear that the Royal Commission, as we have always said, is providing a once in a generation opportunity for us to realise a better aged care system. 

"As I said at the start of this event, some providers have been found to be at fault and we must acknowledge that, and those providers must address those issues to ensure that there are no repeats. 

"And if they are unable or unwilling to do that, then there is no place for them in a new aged care system in Australia."

The forum covered a number of topics, including quality and compliance, funding and finance, workforce, getting the best for older Australians, and more.

There was a focus on ways to correct past mistakes in areas that have been highlighted by Royal Commissioner's as a problem for older people receiving care.

A number of provider executives appeared for panel discussions around the recommendations and provided their perspective on what has been proposed.

Chairman of LASA, Dr Graeme Blackman, says that the recommendations from the Commissioners propose a new and reimagined aged care system.

"The title of the Report is Care, Dignity and Respect, which is what we all want to achieve across Australia. It has been a long journey to get to this point and it is compelling to read the over 3,000 page report in detail," says Dr Blackman.

"The outcome we wanted is better and world leading care over all. It means, as the Prime Minister said when he released the report, a new paradigm that is structurally different to the system that has been adjusted for decades. 

"With life being so precious and to be lived to the full, this is essentially what older people and their families need, and what our members and aged care providers want to deliver to older Australians."

LASA asked providers to ask themselves a range of questions about how they can provide better care in the future including whether their organisations understands what they need to do to change, how their services compare to the recommendations, what infrastructure changes are required and need to be built, and how their organisation can demonstrate accountability and performance to their residents.

Mr Rooney recommends providers to be prepared ahead of the 2021-2022 Federal Budget, where it is likely providers will need to start implementing big changes within their company and the Federal Government will start enforcing new rules and regulations.

Minister for Aged Care, Senator Greg Hunt, held a brief session explaining the Government and sector steps that will be occurring over the next five years.

He adds that there are five pillars that will mark the change of the older aged care system to a higher quality aged care system - home care, residential care, regulation and physical and chemical restraint, workforce, and governance.

Minister Hunt says that we, as a society, need to aspire to be better so that people's expectations of a full and rich life can be met, no matter if you have dementia, live in aged care, or require home care.

"We need to lift our standards and that of course means Government support, but it means a national cultural change as well, built around three principles, respect, care, and dignity," says Minister Hunt.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Richard Colbeck, also held a session at the forum, describing the task ahead as not the Government's journey alone.

"This will be a journey that we all must take together. Because only by clearly understanding the needs of older Australians, as well as the expectations of the Government, the aged care sector and the community, can we deliver a system that will deliver better outcomes," says Minister Colbeck."

"...The Royal Commission's Final Report is a comprehensive, thorough and much-needed examination of the aged care sector. It reflects the lived experiences of people in care, stories which are hard to read, heartbreaking and harrowing. 

"It services as a wake up call for us all, an opportunity to draw a line in the sand. But the final report also offers hope. It delivers a roadmap and a once in a generation opportunity to change the way aged care is provided in this country."

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