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Peak bodies concerned over parties silence on aged care

Aged care industry peak bodies Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) has called out Australian political parties for their lack of commitment to creating a better aged care system for Australia’s elderly.

Two aged care industry peak bodies have asked for aged care policy action from major parties. [Source: Shutterstock].
Two aged care industry peak bodies have asked for aged care policy action from major parties. [Source: Shutterstock].

With less than three weeks until election day, LASA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sean Rooney, doesn’t believe the Coalition or Labor have pledged enough policy changes or announcements around the aged care sector.

Mr Rooney says both major parties are stating they are committed to a better aged care industry without proof through policy announcements.

“Aged care is just as important as health and education. But yet again, it seems our older Australians are being forgotten,” says Mr Rooney.

“Older Australians and those that care for them deserve real vision and commitment from the next government of this country and they and their loved ones have a right to know where the parties stand on aged care before they head to the ballot box.

“Making the system better should be a priority for all political parties and candidates. We need to ensure that older Australians can access the care they need, and that this care is adequately funded to reflect the actual costs of delivering quality care and services, whilst we also attract, train and develop high performing staff.”

LASA has stated that while the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, announced the Royal Commission into Aged Care and it was backed by Labor, both parties have been silent about the sector during their campaign.

Mr Rooney says, “Their silence is alarming because we’ve heard nothing about what’s happening for the nearly 130,000 older Australians on the home care waiting list, only silence about the 42 percent of residential care facilities operating at a loss and nothing about investing in the aged care workforce.”

LASA has outlined and put forward policy solutions to the major parties.

ACSA has also asked political parties to respond to five urgent priorities for aged care that needs to be resolved before the Royal Commission finishes.

CEO of ACSA, Patricia Sparrow says that even though the Royal Commission is doing proper investigations into the aged care sector, there are urgent and practical solutions that can be acted on now by the Government.

“We can’t use the Royal Commission as an excuse to delay urgent reforms that will improve aged care right now,” says Ms Sparrow.

“The Commission has kick started the kind of big community discussion we need in order to respond to the challenges and opportunities being presented by our ageing nation, but these are some practical ideas that can be put into action now. There’s no excuse to delay.

“We are seeking a response from all political parties as to what they will do about these priorities before the Royal Commission delivers its recommendations.”

ACSA has asked for commitments to five priorities, including extending the short-term 9.5 percent funding injection into residential care until broader recommendations from the Royal Commission can be implemented;

An urgent boost of 40,000 level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages; increase the rural and remote supplement by $10 per day to keep rural and regional Australians in their communities; address the oral health crisis in aged care with MBS provider numbers for dental hygienists or oral health therapists; and bring forward a 30 per cent increase to the homeless supplement for 2019/2020.

LASA has called on Australians to confront their local MPs and candidates to get political parties to commit more to the aged care sector.

On May 14, LASA is asking aged care providers, staff, clients and communities to get involved in a “national day of action” and tell their local candidates about the importance of the aged care industry.

In the Coalition Government’s Federal Budget, the party has dedicated multiple promises to aged care, including a funding boost to aged care, providing $282.4 million for 10,000 home care packages, a $1.1 billion investment in Primary Health Care, $5.6 million to improve compliance framework for quality and safety of home care services, and a number of other policy promises.

The ALP has so far promised $2.4 billion towards a Pensioner Dental Plan, shift-by-shift nurse to patient ratio system, and recently announced a pledge to raise wages of “underpaid” aged care workers next year after the royal commission.

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