The funding boost, announced by Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt and Federal Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt, is set to be divvied up among a number of projects and initiatives, and comes in addition to the $32.6 million announced in May for the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
The Commission is set to receive a further $16 million from the newly announced funding, with $40 million also being made immediately available to support aged care services in regional, rural and remote locations to improve, maintain and expand their infrastructure, and $50 million to support residential aged care providers and their staff improve quality and standards of care across the sector.
“Older Australians deserve our respect and they should receive the very best available,” Ministers Hunt and Wyatt say.
“The Morrison Government is committed to keeping Australians safe and this includes as they age.
“The overwhelming majority of aged care providers do the right thing but we recognise some have not been up to scratch [and] our message is clear - any organisation or person doing the wrong thing will be found.
“Sub-standard care will not be tolerated, including the option to shut down an operator doing the wrong thing.”
As well as the additional funding, the Government has also announced it is bringing forward the appointment of a new Chief Clinical Advisor under the aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner as well as $90 million to support aged care providers, and has released a new strategy to attract and retain more workers for the aged care sector, while also improving the quality of the care given.
Australia’s peak consumer body for older Australians - Council for the Ageing (COTA) - has welcomed the Federal Government’s announcements, with Chief Executive Ian Yates highlighting that these measures are designed to bolster protection and increase transparency and accountability for quality and safety in Australia’s aged care system - from community services and home care packages, to nursing homes.
“Jointly the new Standards and the Quality and Safety Commission represent a landmark advance for consumer rights in aged care,” Mr Yates says.
“We still need more to be done, but these are essential steps forward to driving out poor quality providers of support and care for older Australians.”
He adds that, the bringing together of regulation, compliance functions and complaints handling in a single independent body under the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission - if implemented correctly - will give consumers a single point of contact to raise concerns about any aspect of the quality of care being provided.
“It’s designed to prevent repeats of tragic failures such as at South Australia’s Oakden facility,” he says.
“The new communication from providers to the Commission will identify poor quality earlier and raise the alarm about dangerous care practices.
“The Government is funding providers to deliver new training as part of the new Standards and a key responsibility of the Commission will be to work with consumers to develop best practice in how aged care providers engage with consumers and their families.”
Fellow national peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has also welcomed the shining of a spotlight on aged care quality.
LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney says all parties - Government, the sector and older people and their families - want a world class aged care system that delivers accessible, affordable, quality care and services, adding that the new Aged Care Safety and Quality Commission, along with the Aged Care Quality Framework would provide a “strong backbone” for quality outcomes in aged care.
“A lot of work has already been done on policy reforms to ensure that Australia’s aged care system is supported to deliver the quality care our older Australians need and deserve, now and into the future,” Mr Rooney said.
“However, there is still much more work to do, particularly around workforce development and a sustainable funding strategy.”