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What the aged care sector is asking for this Election

With the Federal Election less than a week away, political parties and candidates are making their last-minute promises and commitments to get your vote this year.

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Aged care is a key issue for this Election, but the aged care sector is still looking for more promises from political parties ahead of the Election. [Source: Shutterstock]

A recent Australian National University (ANU) analysis has found that fixing the aged care system is the second-highest priority among voters and is a key issue going into this Election.

So what is the aged care sector asking for this Election? Here is a comprehensive overview of the aged care Election wishlist.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration, a group of six aged care peak bodies, is glad to see aged care is top of mind for voters this Election.

This group includes Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA), Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Anglicare Australia, Baptist Care Australia, Catholic Health Australia and UnitingCare Australia.

The group has three areas it wants to have commitments from political parties on, including:

  • A Workforce Partnership Supplement for providers to spend immediately on increasing wages, training, minutes of care, 24-hour nursing, COVID-19 prevention and workforce retention costs
  • A minimum wage increase for aged care workers through funding the Fair Work Commission Work Value Case, and award wage increases from July 2022
  • A commitment to a multidisciplinary workforce by putting in place an allied health needs assessment and funding model by July 2024

So far, the AACC believes the commitments and policies put forward by each major political party are lacking clarity and detailed plans about how they would implement their promises for aged care.

The AACC has also put together a scorecard of how Labor, Liberal and the Greens match up to commitments in aged care. The scorecard puts the Greens first, then Labor, then the Liberals, based on six key funding areas.

Older people want dignity and respect in aged care

Peak body for older Australians, Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, has outlined 12 public policy areas, including 37 recommendations, for the next Government to implement to improve the lives of older Australians and the aged care sector. This includes:

  • Addressing ageism and age discrimination
  • Preventing elder abuse
  • Transforming aged care
  • Bettering retirement income policy
  • A whole of Government ageing strategy

Ian Yates, Chief Executive of COTA, says that this Agenda will assist the new Government in implementing positive changes for older people in Australia.

"We are not apportioning blame for the past. Both major parties have things to be proud of, and failings, but our focus is on what can be achieved in the next three years," says Mr Yates.

"That’s what matters to older people, and indeed their families, which is really all Australians."

To read the full agenda, head to the COTA website.

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Craig Gear, says that the current aged care system is failing older peoples' basic human rights.

"The treatment we’ve seen of older Australians, particularly in residential aged care homes, is a national disgrace," says Mr Gear.

"The reform journey has commenced, but action must ramp up to give older Australians the dignity and respect they deserve in their later years."

OPAN is seeking five Election commitments for aged care:

  • A new rights-based Aged Care Act that puts older people's rights at the centre by July 2023
  • Legislate the revised Industry Code for Visiting Aged Care Homes
  • Investment in home care
  • Implementing all recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
  • Funding ongoing aged care advocacy

Peak body for people with dementia, Dementia Australia, is asking for Election commitments from political parties that will deliver quality dementia care.

CEO of Dementia Australia, Maree McCabe AM, wants the focus to remain on aged care and dementia over the election campaign to make sure issues like the aged care workforce and dementia education aren't forgotten about.

"Aged care and dementia must remain top of the agenda,” says Ms McCabe.

"Thousands of people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers, shared their very personal, often traumatic and confronting experiences directly with the Royal Commission as witnesses, through submissions, by attending roundtables and community forums.

"They need to hear from all parties and all candidates that their contributions will continue to be acknowledged, with clear and direct statements in their platforms that quality dementia care is an Election priority."

Dementia Australia wants to see commitments for:

  • The introduction of compulsory dementia education training for aged care workers
  • Establishment of a national dementia palliative care program
  • Long term funding for the Dementia-Friendly Communities program

Aged care should be made "fairer" for older people and the aged care workforce

Anglicare Australia, national social advocacy organisation, wants to see political parties offer commitments that will "make Australia fairer", including action on incomes, services and job creation.

The organisation wants to see an increase in welfare payments, like the Age Pension, with added reform changes that ensure these payments keep pace with the cost of living.

Anglicare Australia sent open letters to both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese with concerns about dignity for older Australians and the need for quality care.

The organisation requested each leader to commit to funding the Fair Work Value Case which is before the Fair Work Commission, which it believes would encourage workforce retention.

Additionally, Anglicare Australia wants an investment in social housing and rental affordability.

The peak body for older Australians, National Seniors Australia, says this Election is going to be the most important Election ever for older Australians.

National Seniors wants to see political parties commit to the "Let Pensioners Work" campaign, which it believes will assist with the ongoing worker shortages around Australia and allow older pensioners to boost their income.

The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) wants politicians to prioritise issues that are currently impacting those in the nursing profession.

The ACN wants candidates to commit to registered nurses with specific training in aged care being available 24/7 in residential facilities, which would address occupational violence against nurses, as well as allowing advanced practice nurses to work to their full scope.

Speech Pathology Australia wants all political parties and candidates to commit to supporting parliamentary action that would implement Royal Commission recommendations around the inadequate funding and provision of allied health services, like speech pathology, in aged care.

Home Instead, a home care provider, is looking for promises that will improve workforce shortages to benefit both older people and aged care workers.

The provider is specifically asking for older Australians to have the right to work more hours without their pensions being impacted, which would reduce pensioner poverty and could fill workforce shortages in aged care.

InteliCare, creating Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to be used in older Australians' homes and aged care facilities, don't believe the current aged care commitments from either party are doing enough for the aged care sector.

CEO of InteliCare, Jason Waller, wants to see the aged care system modernised by including assistive technology within Home Care Package options.

"It’s time we stopped thinking along the same old lines - we need to modernise the system, and we need to do it now. Humans coupled with technology will inject a boost of productivity the industry needs, and waiting on the market to respond won’t work because it’s overwhelmed and we’re treading water," says Mr Waller.

What promises do you want to see from political parties? Tell us in the comments below.

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