Green light for immediate aged care reform

Flinders University Caring Futures Institute researcher and health economics expert Professor Julie Ratcliffe has welcomed the release of the damning final report by the Royal Commission into aged care and strongly agrees the foundations of the new system must place older people at its heart.

Prof Ratcliffe, a Matthew Flinders Fellow, conducted research for the Royal Commission including reports on the general public’s preferences for quality of care and future funding and community expectations around aged care experiences.

After two years of investigation into the sector, more than 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses the final report for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was released publicly on 1 March and calls for fundamental reform of the aged care system.

“The extent of substandard care in Australia’s aged care system reflects both poor quality on the part of some aged care providers and fundamental systemic flaws with the way the Australian aged care system is designed and governed,” the report says. “People receiving aged care deserve better. The Australian community is entitled to expect better.”

Royal Commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO made 148 recommendations including a new Aged Care Act, stronger governance and transparency, and improved workforce capability and conditions.

Following the report’s release, the Federal Government announced it would spend almost half a billion dollars on addressing immediate issues in the failing sector. The government is expected to provide a full response in its May budget.

Professor Julie Ratcliffe

Prof Ratcliffe says she “wholeheartedly agrees” with the Commissioner’s observations that is is difficult to measure quality in the current aged care system.

“New quality indicators should be older person-focused,” she says.

“Our new measures for assessing older people’s quality of care experience and quality of life have been co-designed with older Australians as new key quality indicator.

“We welcome the opportunity to continue our conversations with older people and their families, service providers and other industry peak bodies, the Federal Government and the Australian Quality and Safety Commission to ensure sector-wide uptake of our new measures as key consumer focused indicators for quality assessment and for economic evaluation.”

Prof Ratcliffe says she strongly supports the Commissioners’ recommendations for ensuring the economic sustainability of the system and for ensuring transparency, value and accountability.

“It is important to develop new evidence for determining the costs of providing safe and high-quality aged care services,” she says.

“Our previous work for the Royal Commission found strong general public support for high quality aged care and a willingness to pay additional income tax contributions to support universal access to high quality aged care for all older Australians in need.”

For a list of the Royal Commission’s final report recommendations see here.


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Quality Aged Care