Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the aged care royal commission’s final report “candid” and "ambitious” but the government has so far “made no decisions” on its findings.
Commissioners Lynelle Briggs and Tony Pagone have set out a roadmap for government to fix the problems highlighted in their two-year investigation into Australia’s aged care sector, though they’ve advocated for different directions on a number of issues.
At a press conference, Morrison said his government was committed to responding to the recommendations in the report.
He said: “What [the commissioners have] said is the basic paradigm needs to change. And I agree. We need to make generational change…”
“The fact that Australians feel that they are waiting out their life… it’s impossible to put into words how you respond to that.”
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said: “[There's been] a lot of cans being kicked down the road in aged care for 20 years by successive governments.
“Now is the opportunity to remedy that.”
The Prime Minister said the government would respond to the report "throughout the Budget process".
He promised that there would be a considerable shift in the sector from a “constrained system that focuses on funding for providers to a needs-based system that puts the person at the centre”.
“No government has done that in the last 30 years,” he said. “As a result, it requires some very significant change.”
When asked by reporters how much money would be required for the “once in a generation” change, Morrison said as yet “no one knows”.
“The answer is no one knows. The Royal commission doesn’t know yet.”
Nonetheless, he promised a “comprehensive response” in the course of the Budget.
In the meantime, he asked Minister for Aged Care Greg Hunt to detail the government’s initial response to the final report.
After stressing that the measures set out in the press conference were part of an "initial" response, Hunt detailed a five-pillar plan.
Hunt said the government would act on transparency of fees and commence an audit program of over 500 facilities per year. There will also be a new quality control system within home care.
Quality and safety
There will be 1500 extra audits of facilities per year under the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner. There will also be extra regulation to ensure further protection against physical and chemical restraint. To that end, government will appoint a new senior restraint leader within the commission.
Services and sustainability
Hunt said the government will extend the viability supplement "with 30 per cent uplift" to 30 June as an interim measure while it prepared its full response and promised a long term solution in the Budget. There will also be a targeted fund for providers facing stress.
The government will make available 18,000 places for training of new home care and residential care workers.
It will also begin a governance training and funding program for 3,700 senior leaders at the executive level and across boards.
And, as recommended in the report, there will be a new Aged Care Act.
"That will be a significant process but it's based on a simple concept of respect for the individual," Hunt said
"Instead of being about providers, instead of it being about money, it's about respect for the individual needs."
He said the government will respond in full by 31 May.Do you have an idea for a story?
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