Today’s Aged Care Royal Commission’s recommendations threaten to leave older Australians without the quality care they desperately need, United Workers Union said today.
“Reforms that address the neglect of older Australians are welcomed,” Carolyn Smith, United Workers Union aged care director, said today.
“However an incremental approach to increasing care time – lifting care time from current levels by a miserly 20 minutes – means older Australians will still miss out on the quality care needed.
“The lack of a clear recommendation on how the reforms should be financed also means older Australians will be hostage to political solutions rather than good policy.
“Without clarity around funding sources and a bold increase in care time, older Australians will be left without the care and safety they require.
“On another front, the recommendation to clear the Home Care waiting list will present the Federal Government a massive logistical challenge – even on employers’ estimates a workforce of 16,000 will be required to clear the existing waiting list.
Carolyn Smith makes the following comments on Royal Commission recommendations:
- Recommendation of an independent aged care pricing body:
- “An independent body with the task of assessing the cost of quality care is an essential step to the future quality care of older Australians. Recognising and valuing staff is essential to delivering the quality care older Australians need, and an independent pricing body should take those contributions into account.”
- Recommendation on improved wages for aged care workers:
- “We support the Royal Commission’s recognition that aged care workers’ wages have been too low for too long. The importance of skilled and trained workers providing quality care to older Australians is highlighted by a looming workforce crisis in aged care – the Royal Commission estimates 80,000 new aged care workers will be needed by 2030.”
- Recommendation on transparency of funding care of older Australians:
- “We support the Royal Commission’s proposal to dramatically increase transparency of the funding received by residential facilities to ensure funding goes to care of older Australians, not profits.”
The Royal Commission’s recommendations on Home Care:
“The recommendation of several billions of dollars in funding to clear the 100,000 places on the home care waitlist is at first glance a welcome move in a system that leaves people literally dying before they receive care,” Ms Smith said. “The truth of the matter is that the proposed investment must be matched by a workforce plan that recognises the need to hire and train literally thousands of home care workers.
“In submissions to the Royal Commission, employers estimate at least 16,000 aged care workers will be needed to clear the waiting list of 100,000.
“Given this government’s track record of aged care bungles, it is highly likely older Australians will continue to die waiting for places if this recommendation is accepted.”
The Royal Commission’s recommendations on care time:
“Addressing the issue of care time for each older Australian with a 200-minute benchmark is setting a low standard for the aged care industry.
“The recommendations on care time fail to live up to the benchmarks recommended to the Royal Commission by the counsel assisting in October.
“Having a care time guarantee that gives aged care workers the time they need to care for each and every resident was endorsed by 95 per cent of 3000 aged care workers in our recent survey. Sadly, the recommendation of the Royal Commission falls well short of achieving that goal.”
The Federal Government’s response:
“What we have seen in response to the Royal Commission is a Scott Morrison sales job and the big promise of further unspecified action,” Ms Smith said.
“We have no confidence older Australians and frontline aged care workers will ever see the benefits of the vaunted reforms and promised funding.
“It’s notable that the Federal Government’s initial reaction is to create more paperwork rather than addressing the fundamental causes of the aged care crisis.
“The Federal Government’s reaction to the Aged Care Royal Commission has all the hallmarks of its general failure to take responsibility for older Australians in aged care.
“The response so far is hasty and poorly-thought-through, with the heavy lifting pushed off to the Federal Budget.”
“Older Australians, their families and aged care workers deserve better than a shallow marketing exercise after the Royal Commission exposed how the aged care system left older Australians without the safety and care they deserve.”
The Federal Government’s track record:
“Sadly, with a track record of ignoring 21 reports in the life of this government, there would seem to be a real prospect that the hopes of real reforms for older Australians will be dashed.
“While Royal Commission recommendations around oversight, transparency, home care, and increased wages are welcome first steps, the fix is left to a Federal Government that has been responsible for the aged care crisis in the first place. “We must remember that Scott Morrison as Treasurer cut $1.7 billion in funding from aged care, contributing to the understaffing and heavy workloads affecting the care and safety of older Australians.”
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