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Peak bodies unify to create ten key principles for the future of aged care

Six aged care consumer and carer peak bodies have banded together in a bid to outline their shared vision for aged care in the future that will improve quality care for older people in Australia.

These peak bodies are creating an alliance to advocate for better aged care through ten key principals. [Source: iStock]
These peak bodies are creating an alliance to advocate for better aged care through ten key principals. [Source: iStock]

This alliance comes as the aged care system faces scrutiny and pressure over the last year. Particularly around failures that were exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic and through the ongoing investigations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The alliance includes Carers Australia, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, Dementia Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia (FECCA), National Seniors Australia and the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN). 

There are ten shared principles which will assist in making sure older Australians get the support they choose, when and where they need it, and with dignity and respect from an aged care workforce that has appropriate training and are equipped to provide a quality standard of care.

Chief Executive of COTA Australia, Ian Yates AM, says it is time for the aged care system to be overhauled so that the needs of providers and bureaucracy are not put above the important human needs of older Australians.

"Structurally, culturally and legislatively we have the opportunity to rebuild our aged care system so that it places the needs and preferences of consumers at its very centre," says Mr Yates. 

"Older Australians must have both choice and control over the supports they receive, whether that’s at home, in specialist housing, or in a residential aged care setting. Above all, the system must ensure every Australian enjoys the highest quality of life as we age."

Any reform changes need to address the diverse profiles of the ageing population in Australia, says Mary Patetsos, Chair of FECCA.

She says catering to culture and language specific to the needs of consumers and investing in bilingual and bicultural staff should be a core business practice of all aged care providers. 

Ms Patetsos adds that the COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder that communities help facilitate access to services and they need to be supported while doing a crucial role in the aged care sector.

Craig Gear OAM, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OPAN, explains, "Everyone will benefit from an improved aged care system.

"As our population ages, we need a system that allows older people to contribute and belong. Older people and their carers deserve better."

The ten shared principles are:

  1. An improved Aged Care Act

  2. An aged care system where care is guaranteed within 30 days

  3. Full transparency and easy-to-understand performance indicators so consumers are informed when making decisions

  4. A workforce that is trained, registered and qualified to be providing quality care

  5. Better support and recognition for unpaid, informal carers

  6. Easy to understand information and local solutions

  7. Provide the aged care regulator with enough resources to take robust action when protecting consumers

  8. Services that are inclusive, culturally safe and sensitive

  9. A new funding model that ensures adequate taxpayer funding, better control for consumers over their funding, independent pricing and transparency around how funds are being spent by providers

  10. Aged care that is integrated better with other health and wellbeing services

"The Aged Care Royal Commission has rightly shone a light on issues that matter to the community, including family and friend carers," says CEO of Carers Australia, Liz Callaghan.

"Future reform must address these ten points in order to meet community expectations and deliver on quality of care."

Maree McCabe, CEO of Dementia Australia, explains that these ten principles will be vital for people living with dementia, their families and carers, so their human rights are respected and reflected in a new aged care system.

She adds that consistent and equitable access to quality dementia care must be a cornerstone of aged care and there needs to be a focus on building the workforces ability to understand and support people with dementia.

The group are hoping that the Government shows its commitment to the aged care in the upcoming budget, explains Ian Henschke, Chief Advocate for National Seniors Australia.

"This year’s budget must finally fund enough packages to make sure the neglect ends, and no one waits more than a month for the home care they need," says Mr Henschke. 

"We also need a new system that tracks where the money goes and punishes providers who put profit before people and cause suffering and death."

You can read more about the ten principles on the COTA website.

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