Aged care minister Richard Colbeck has denied claims the aged care sector has been left out of the picture since the government unveiled its sweeping plans for reform in response to the aged care royal commission.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has slammed the government for failing to engage with the aged care sector and lagging on reform.

“The 19th of August marked 100 days since the government released its aged care reform plans,” LASA CEO Sean Rooney said.

“To say that we, as a sector, are disappointed by the lack of real consultation is an understatement.”

The federal government promised a $17.7 billion, 5-year plan for aged care in the May federal budget, and Mr Rooney says the sector reached out to the government in June with a list of priorities for “transformational” change.

He also noted that consultation with providers, consumers and other aged care sector stakeholders is one of the 148 recommendations in the final report of the Royal Commission handed down in March.

Jeopardising opportunity for change

Despite this, the sector has been left in the cold,  jeopardising a once in a generation opportunity to fix the system, Mr Rooney says.

At present, the door appears to be firmly shut on the sector’s involvement in the planning process on the landmark aged care reforms recommended by the royal commsssion.

Sean Rooney
Sean Rooney

“At present, the door appears to be firmly shut on the sector’s involvement in the planning process on the landmark aged care reforms recommended by the royal commission and largely adopted by the government as its ‘five pillars’ of reform over five years.

“You cannot have successful and significant reforms without meaningfully working with the people who have to implement them.”

Providers back back calls for engagement

Providers have joined LASA in calling for engagement.

UnitingCare National Director Claerwen Little says bringing about change must be a shared responsibility.

Claerwen Little

“The change we want to achieve is a shared responsibility for all stakeholders across the aged care sector from providers, to workers, consumers, allied health, medical and government,” she said.

Kasy Chambers, Executive Director of Anglicare Australia, warned that lack of consultation was a key reason that past attempts at aged care reform had failed.

“It’s not good enough that the government thinks it can drive reform in the aged care sector without including representatives in designing significant changes to critical aspects of aged care delivery,” she said.

Not so, says government

In a statement to Community Care Reveiw, Senator Colbeck denied the sector was being sidelined and said the government remained committed to engaging and consulting with senior Australians, peak organisations and aged care providers.

“The Morrison Government is in constant communication with aged care providers as we continue to implement key reforms from its comprehensive $17 billion response to the Royal Commission’s Final Report,” a spokesman said.

“The department has also held many targeted consultations with stakeholders on elements of the reform package over the past year and has held a series of interactive webinars in the last two months.

“In addition, the department engages with the sector through a number of regular meetings. This includes a weekly meeting between Minister Colbeck and sector peaks, at which the CEO of LASA has a standing invitation.”

Engagement hubs

Senator Colbeck said the government has already implemented a range of measures including releasing an additional 700 home care packages each week.

New legislation would also deliver risk-based assurance reviews of 500 home care providers every 12 months to improve the safety and quality of services.

The government has established an Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub  which provides information on future engagement activities that will inform the implementation of the reforms.

Four consultations are currently open for feedback.

Access the Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub.

This story first ran on Community Care Review.

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