A new star-rating system, better reporting and greater power to enforce codes of conduct, are set to improve the lives of older people and reduce abuse and neglect in residential and home care.

The Older Persons Advocacy Network says that the passage of the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response) Bill 2022 through the Australian Parliament represents a significant milestone in aged care reform.

The bill responds to 17 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations and is the first piece of legislation passed under the new Albanese Government.

One of the key measures in the Bill is a new residential aged care funding model which OPAN’s Manager of Policy and Systemic Advocacy, Samantha Edmonds says supports a consumer-focused approach and a much-needed improvement.

Says Edmonds, “OPAN considers the extension of the Serious Incident Reporting Scheme into home care to be an important step in reducing the abuse and neglect of older people.

”We also welcome the establishment of a star rating system for residential aged care service providers.

“Star ratings enable a level of standardisation by which to measure aged care providers. It is a quick and hopefully credible way for older people, carers and family members to assess the quality of the service and compare that quality between providers.

The bill also establishes an enforceable code of conduct for all aged care staff. “OPAN welcomes the application of the code to governing persons, who set the culture of an organisation and therefore should be held to the same, if not higher, level of accountability,” said Edmonds.

“We also support the additional powers given to the Commissioner in relation to failure to comply with the code, responding to alleged breaches of the code and enforcing compliance with the code.”

Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese said the Bill was an important milestone in aged care. “The final report of the aged care Royal Commission was titled ‘Care, Dignity and Respect’. Those three little words are the least we can provide our older Australians who built this country,” he said.

“With today’s passage of the Royal Commission Response Bill the Government has taken a significant step to ensure older Australians receive the care, dignity and respect they deserve.

“Having an aged care bill in response to that Royal Commission become the first to pass through Parliament shows how seriously we take reform in the sector.

“I made promises to the Australian people to improved aged care and inside our first ten weeks we have begun delivering on those promises.

“The Labor Government is committed to improving the care and support of our older Australians. This bill will usher in a new standard of respect.”

Minister for Aged Care, Anika Wells said that the passing of the bill would hold residential care management to higher standards but that there was a long road ahead,  “We made a promise to Australians that we would take better care of their loved ones and the fact the first bill being passed through the 47th Parliament helps reform aged care shows how determined we are to improve the sector,” she said.

“After nine years of neglect, reform in aged care has finally begun and will continue to be driven so our most vulnerable people are treated with the dignity they deserve.

“The task to reform aged care will take years but this bill passing is a critical first step.”

In a Baby Boomers Guide podcast episode leading up to the bill, Paul Sadler, CEO of Aged and Community Services of Australia, disucssed acute work force issues as one of the key issues affecting quality of aged care. He also talked about steps to accessing the aged care system.

Link to Aged Care in Crisis podcast
Link to Navigating Aged Care podcast
Link to Older Persons Advocacy Network – Phone 1800 700 600

Link to Australian Government website – MyAgedCare

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