A group of aged care provider peak bodies has welcomed the establishment of an older people’s advisory body but say details on the overall reform agenda are still missing.
The Council of Elders is among the 148 recommendations in the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and one put forward by Royal Commissioner Lynelle Briggs.
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck jointly announced the call for nominations for the 10-member panel on Friday, which was Ageism Awareness Day and the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons.
The council, which will report to the health and aged care ministers, will provide a voice for senior Australians on aged care reform and ageing-related issues and advise the Department of Health and the National Aged Care Advisory Council.
The advisory council has not been established yet, but in its response to the royal commission’s final report the government committed to creating it from 1 July 2021 to provide expert advice on key matters relating to the aged care sector and lead the reform agenda.
Australian Aged Care Collaboration representative Sean Rooney said the Council of Elders was an important step of the reform agenda but said questions still remained over the progression of many other elements.
“We’re very short on detail with regards to the plan for implementation of reform,” Mr Rooney told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“The recommendation was for a Council of Elders but also for a National Aged Care Advisory Council.
The budget and their response to the royal commission was back in early May and we’re early October and yet we still have no insight into the establishment of that council, either with the scope of works, its terms of reference, or indeed, the membership of that group,” he said.
“As we understand, that’s the group that will have a key role in the oversight of the design and the delivery of the reform program, among other activities. Without having visibility of where that’s up to, there is concern,” said Mr Rooney.
There is a lot of activity from government about the reforms but there is no clear picture of how it fits together, he said.
“And we need to understand how those things fit together in order to support not just aged care providers, but workers, residents, clients and their families and the other representative groups and stakeholders, because from what I understand, they’re feeling somewhat the same,” he said.
Consumer peak body COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates also welcomed the establishment of the Council of Elders.
“COTA has always fought for older Australians to be at the centre of decision-making in aged care, and I’m pleased that the Morrison Government is implementing this key recommendation of the aged care royal commission,” Mr Yates said in a statement.
Mr Hunt said the Council of Elders will be consumer focused with the 10 members coming from across Australia including from rural, regional and remote areas.
“Our aged care reforms are all about providing respect, care and dignity to senior Australians, and we want to ensure the voices of those senior Australians are heard at the highest levels in this process,” Mr Hunt said in a statement.
Successful nominees will have a lived understanding of aged care and must be able to engage with their community, the government and ministers on aged care reforms.
They must also be independent of government and not affiliated with an aged care provider.
Nominations close on 15 October. Find out more about nominations.
Ageism Awareness Day and the United Nation’s International Day of Older Persons took place on 1 October.