Elderly Australians living in aged care are expected to have more peace of mind about their safety with legislation passing parliament to establish the nation’s first Independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
The government made the announcement on Tuesday, claiming “senior Australians are at the heart of this reform” that will provide a regulatory framework to protect and enhance senior Australians’ quality of life, safety and wellbeing.
The commission is said to include funding of almost $300 million over four years, along with an additional $48.2 million to expand monitoring, secure aged care quality and the employment of a network of dozens of additional senior compliance officers.
According to Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt, the commission led by independent Commissioner Janet Anderson, will be a “one stop shop” that will help provide senior Australians and their families with more certainty in quality care delivery.
“The commission will oversee a tripling of unannounced reaccreditation audits of residential aged care homes in 2019, compared with 2018, and a significant increase in unannounced inspections, to more than 3,000 next year,” he said in a statement.
“It will also work with the aged care sector to establish a Serious Incident Response Scheme to improve risk management and prevent and quickly resolve care challenges.
“Through this integrated and responsive agency, the more than 1.3 million Australians who receive various forms of Commonwealth aged care support and the 366,000 aged care staff who care for them will have increased confidence in aged care regulation and the upholding of their rights.”
It comes after the government announced a royal commission into the aged care sector after reports of rampant abuse and neglect across the system.
“As the aged care Royal Commission goes about its critical work, our government’s aged care reform agenda will continue at full pace, providing senior Australians and their families with more certainty in quality care delivery,” he said.
“The establishment of the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission is part of our government’s record aged care funding boost, with the 2018-19 Federal Budget increasing aged care spending by $5 billion over four years.”
Despite the growing number of elder abuse cases in aged care facilities, research released shortly after the royal commission announcement in September, revealed that an overwhelming majority of older Aussies have no idea how to complain about poor practices or inadequate care.
A study carried out by National Seniors Australia found that a whopping 65 per cent of seniors feel there are no options to complain, while 60 per cent have never heard of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.
The alarming findings also revealed that 70 per cent of Baby Boomers have never looked at the My Aged Care website, which is a government service designed to provide information to those seeking aged care or family members, while 85 per cent had never phoned the My Aged Care helpline for assistance.
“The absolute goal is to have zero tolerance for the types of endemic problems that have been revealed recently, many of which have surfaced since the introduction of unannounced accreditation assessments,” National Seniors’ Interim CEO Professor John McCallum said.
“Consumers can help drive change by becoming better informed, and providers and government need to assist in developing consumer knowledge and literacy, so information is more readily accessible.