Seniors advocacy body, COTA Australia, has welcomed the recent announcement of the Aged Care Quality Advisory Council, by Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield.
The Aged Care Quality Advisory Council will provide advice to the government and to the Aged Care Quality Agency that oversees standards in the aged care system.
COTA Australia chief executive, Ian Yates, says he is pleased that COTA has been appointed to the Council and looks forward to contributing to measures to improve the quality of age care services that are used by more than one million older Australians.
“Older people and their families should be able to feel confident that they are receiving the highest level of care when they are at their most vulnerable, wherever they are in aged care, and there should be indicators that measure higher levels of quality so people can choose between services,” Mr Yates says.
“The recent horrendous stories coming out of a residential aged care facility in Bundaberg demonstrate the necessity of further strengthening existing safeguards for people in aged care," he says.
“We welcome government putting a range of experts on the Advisory Council so that service provider, clinician and consumer viewpoints all contribute to its recommendations to government and the Quality Agency.”
Mr Yates adds he is pleased at the Minister’s keenness to look beyond the baseline standards accreditation system to the expectations that older Australians have of quality that is more than safety and gives people choice, control and dignity.
“There are varying levels of quality across the aged care sector and there needs to be a better system in place that recognises and rewards those who are doing it best," he says.
“I look forward to working with other members of the Council to ensure we get this right.”
As well as its essential focus on safety and compliance, the Advisory Council will also provide advice on how to broaden the quality agenda to incorporate consumer expectations in aged care services.
“The work of the Advisory Council will further strengthen the existing quality assurance framework for aged care services across the country,” Senator Fifield says.
“But I want it to also look at quality in terms of what older Australians expect from the aged care sector," he adds.
Led by Andrea Coote as chair, who served as Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services in the Victorian government between 2010 and 2014, the members come with a wealth of knowledge and experience.
“The Advisory Council has a strong representation across the aged care industry from both service provider and consumer perspectives, as well as extensive experience in clinical care of older Australians,” Senator Fifield says.
The members of the Advisory Council also reflect the changing nature of the aged care sector and bring innovation in a range of areas.
“As we move to a more consumer driven system of aged care, it’s important that the government’s quality framework reflects the expectations of older Australians when it comes to the quality of care they receive,” he says.
“The safety and wellbeing of older Australians in aged care is critical – but it is not the only aspect to consider when it comes to quality of care.”
Senator Fifield adds he wants to see the sector build on strong foundations of assurances and safeguards to protect older people in their care, and then look further to how they can meet their consumers’ definition of quality beyond the baseline of safety considerations.
The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency was established on 1 January 2014 as part of broader aged care changes, and is responsible for quality assurance across the aged care sector.
Senator Fifield says the Advisory Council will support the Quality Agency as it promotes quality aged care service delivery through a comprehensive industry accreditation and education program.
Members of the Advisory Council include:
- Andrea Coote (chair) - Parliamentary Secretary for Families and Community Services in the Victorian government
- Carol Bennett - Alzheimer's Australia chief executive
- Dr Matthew Cullen - Managing director of Tonic Health Media and a practicing psychiatrist
- Associate Professor Rosanna Capolingua - Practicing GP and practice principal of Floreat Medical
- Dr Stephen Judd - HammondCare chief executive
- Paul Sadler - Presbyterian Aged Care NSW & ACT chief executive
- Ian Yates - COTA Australia chief executive
- Rae Lamb (ex officio) - Australia's Aged Care Commissioner