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Government urged to review aged care report

ANF says draft inquiry report doesn’t go far enough on workforce issues

The Australian Nursing Federation has called on the federal government to urgently review the Productivity Commission's draft report in to the aged care sector.

ANF federal secretary, Lee Thomas, said the report - Caring for Older Australians - failed to address vital issues surrounding quality care needed for elderly Australians and their families.

"We are urging the federal government to firstly review the report and its draft recommendations, and then intervene, to ensure that aged care residents, their families and hard-working nurses and assistants in nursing are simply included throughout the reform of the sector," Thomas said.

"It is crucial that any decisions made around the reform of the aged care sector must take into account the care needs of elderly residents."

Thomas said the report did not recognise several crucial workforce issues including the requirement of minimum care hours for the delivery of quality care and that extra staffing levels and the right skills mix are integral to improving care for older Australians, many of whom are experiencing more complex health needs.

She said there was also a need to recommend the licensing of all workers in the aged care sector - something missing in the report.

"As an ageing population, Australians want to be assured that when they reach an age of reliance and require care, the system will look after their health and care needs. The draft recommendations in the report fail to offer any assurances of this nature, which is a real concern to the ANF.

"We had hoped the Productivity Commission would make recommendations that would improve the lives of aged care residents and the staff who care for them, but the fact is the report has paid little regard to the issue of care delivery.

"Instead, it has promoted deregulation of the sector. Whilst we believe that financial reform is necessary, there is no point of access if there are no nurses or assistants in nursing to care for people once they enter a nursing home or require care in their homes."

Thomas said the ANF would be seeking urgent meeting with the minister for ageing, Mark Butler, to discuss the report.

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