Aged care peak bodies ACSA and LASA have confirmed that they will merge and hope to provide a unified voice for the aged care sector.
The two major peaks, as part of the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC), recently announced that they had hired KPMG to conduct an investigation into how peaks and providers can best represent the sector and the merger has been announced in anticipation of the final report.
At the time, they hinted that a new representative body would be needed in the future
And with the report due to be handed to their respective boards on December 20, the peaks have now paved the way for one voice in aged care with a statement outlining shared principles.
"The ACSA and LASA Boards have concluded that maintaining the status quo for industry representation and development is not an option," they write.
"We also understand many of our members support this assertion. We therefore intend to work collaboratively with the Church Peaks and the Aged Care Reform Network to develop a new sector representation model which is inclusive of the whole aged care industry.
"We do not believe one voice is achieved by ignoring our differences, but rather by creating a conductor role for any new entity which will coordinate the diverse choir of our various members."
The peaks said that they are now "mobilising staff and resources" having briefed "staff on our shared commitment to work together".
After taking recommendations to their respective boards for a vote, the peaks expect to present "a formal sector representation and development model recommendation to our respective members by March 2022 or shortly thereafter".
LASA chief executive Sean Rooney said that in a post-royal commission and pandemic landscape providers need strong representation.
"With the government embarking on major reform of aged care over the next few years, now, more than ever, the aged care sector needs a unified approach to ensure the voices of the people and organisations who provide care are heard and that they are involved in shaping this transformational change."
ACSA and LASA shared principles and desired outcomes:
1. Represent whole of the aged care sector including residential care, home care packages and Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) services as well as related seniors housing/retirement village programs as required.
2. Advocate for a rich and essential diversity of service providers, especially those who serve vulnerable communities or the needs of specific groups or geographies within the Australian community.
3. Support diversity of specialist services and improved access to mainstream services across Regional, Rural and Remote, Culturally and Linguistic Diverse communities, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders, homeless, etc.
4. Maximise one voice advocacy capacity by setting the aged care agenda proactively and responding effectively to Government Five Pillars reforms.
5. Maintain existing and establish new strong relationships with federal, state and territory governments, other provider peaks (eg CHSP, disability, health), consumer peaks, and existing (National Aged Care Alliance) or new sector alliances.
6. Minimise membership fees especially for smaller members through achieving efficiencies, while ensuring effectiveness including by expanding core advocacy and member support and advice capacity (eg through additional research capacity).
7. Provide enhanced member support services such as training, events, consultancy, IR, payroll largely on a pay as you go basis (allowing for member discounts or subsidisation of smaller organisations).
8. Support and fund a structured transition program which allows essential advocacy work via AACC and member support via ACSA & LASA to continue uninterrupted while any new model is established
AACC launches scorecard tracking royal commission progress
Meanwhile, the AACC has launched an Aged Care Reform Scorecard, the first, it says, of a regular look at government progress on aged care reforms.
They found that confidence in government reforms over the last six months is low, with a survey finding that the median respondent was only 30 per cent confident in the success of reform so far and just a quarter of providers were more than 50 per cent confident.
The AACC grouped elements of the Government’s ‘Five Pillars’ reform program into nine outcome areas, rating each under a 'traffic light' system, based on reform performance.
They rated the government's performance in regards to independent pricing and costing of aged care services a 'green' light, signifying confidence in the implementation of reforms, while Workforce and Quality assurance and Improvement were rated 'red light' categories.
ACSA chief executive Paul Sadler said: “The Royal Commission set out an urgent roadmap for reform of the broken aged care system but progress over the past six months has been disappointingly slow.
“Providers have significant concern that the reform process is too slow and lacks transparency. Every day of delay is a missed opportunity to offer someone the best quality of life and care possible as they age."
Following the results of the inaugural scorecard, AACC is calling on the Federal Government for:
- a strategic response to the range of workforce issues
- a consistent flow of information about reform implementation, including timeframes for consultations and progress against milestones, and
- genuine partnering with providers and other stakeholders to work towards a shared vision of high-quality aged care.
Email [email protected]