The final report for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was released in 2021, which laid out recommendations to reform Australia’s aged care system.
Among almost 150 recommendations, the report highlighted the urgent need for a new Aged Care Act in Australia.
The commission spanned over 28 months and included 23 public hearings.
During these hearings, more than 10,500 submissions were reviewed, and 641 witnesses provided significant evidence of the massive crisis occurring within the system.
Throughout this process, the aged care system’s biggest challenges were brought to light.
Some of these issues included substandard care due to overworked suppliers, a lack of transparency in funding, under-resourced and overworked providers, and long wait lists for services.
The report recommends that the changes begin by January 2024, and the Australian Government has already made several investments to support the implementation of the commission’s recommendations.
So far almost $43 million has been invested to increase access to care, improve health outcomes for aged care patients and increase clinical support for the aged care workforce.
The core issue is aged care funding
In the Royal Commission report, nearly all issues led back to one core component: funding.
Aged care workers, services and providers are always working to provide high-quality care and support to every single one of their clients.
This is true whether they are in residential aged care homes or their own homes.
All workers intend to create personalised care, positive experiences and a sense of compassion.
However, when funding is not available, this mark will be continuously missed.
The fact remains that with an aging population, more funding is needed to provide the level of care that elderly Australians deserve.
A genuine people-centred aged care system
When older Australians transition from their homes and into aged care facilities, it can be challenging for everyone. There is a lot to think about during the entirety of the process.
However, it is important to identify that a one-size-fits-all solution for aged care services isn’t the correct one.
‘Aging in place’ is the preferred outcome for many older Australians, and effective home support solutions are not only great for the economy and environment, but also for the clients’ wellbeing.
This is where the best people-centred aged care can be provided.
Often, long waiting lists, limited information, limited support for the transition into aged care and a lack of funding can have a negative effect on clients’ mental health.
It can also have far ranging negative impacts on the lives of clients and their families.
When older people are able to remain at home and ‘age in place’ while receiving the care and support they need, it can have a huge positive effect on their quality of life.
And if residential aged care is the desired model of care, the quality of care and a people-centred approach is even more essential.
Subsidised aged care
For those that need it, the Commonwealth Home Support program provides entry-level support for older people who require some help to stay at home. Service providers work with them and provide home care that will enable them to maintain their independence and stay healthy.
Improving workforce conditions
The aged care industry is one of Australia’s largest service industries and the report from the Royal Commission also made many recommendations in regards to the improvement of workforce conditions.
Aged care providers in 2018 alone delivered services to approximately 1.3 million people. Yet, aged care workers only made up approximately 2.5% of the workforce at the time.
Due to these small numbers, elderly people only receive on average 8 hours and 45 minutes of care every week, which is simply not sufficient.
This is especially true for those who need the highest level of personal care possible.
The report also called for increased wages and employment standards for care workers.
Improving care services with technology
The Royal Commission also shared their recommendations for improving care with technology, stating that assistive technologies can help to increase independence for the elderly.
Technology can also help the industry by improving client record management and data, and provide increased assistance for the management of health conditions.
Investing in technology to keep our elderly population safe is a key component in overhauling the industry.
It has the potential to radically transform the way the elderly receive services and support as they grow older, creating increased opportunities to ‘age in place’ without the loss of independence.