Consumer advocacy COTA Australia has raised concerns over the additional time providers have been given to implement the new single charter of rights that applies to all recipients of government-subsidised aged care services.
Aged care provider peak Leading Age Services Australia says the longer time frame helps mitigate the costs resulting from the expensive and time consuming implementation process.
The government announced on Saturday that the Charter of Aged Care Rights would replace the four current charters relating to care recipients’ rights and responsibilities from 1 July (read more here).
Under new requirements, providers will need to provide a personally signed copy of the charter to every care recipient and give them or their authorised representative the opportunity to co-sign the document.
Residential aged care services have until 30 September 2019 to provide the signed charter to residents while home care providers have until 31 December 2019 to present it clients.
This timeline has not been well-received by consumer peak COTA Australia, which otherwise welcomed the new and strengthened single charter of rights in aged care.
COTA Australia chief executive Ian Yates said he was concerned the government “has given in to pressure from provider groups to delay the requirement for providers” to sign the charter with care recipients.
“If providers are so badly organised that they need extra time, the 30th September is the absolute latest we would deem acceptable – that’s six months to communicate with their customers about their basic rights.
“Why on earth would it take a provider nine months to tell consumers about the charter? I am sure if they were telling them about an increase in fees it would only take a month or two at most,” Mr Yates said.
He said COTA would be telling consumers that the charter comes into force on 1 July and called on providers to act early.
“We urge providers who really do put consumers first to set a much earlier deadline and those who do COTA will publicly welcome and draw to people’s attention,” Mr Yates said.
Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney LASA supported a single charter of rights and recognised its importance for both consumers and providers to enhance aged care safety and quality.
However, he said LASA was concerned “the last minute requirement for providers to explain and encourage existing consumers to sign the charter” would be time consuming and expensive given there were 1.3 million recipients of aged care services.
“The additional administrative costs of this process are likely to run into the tens of millions of dollars across the sector at a time when providers are under significant financial pressure and impact on resourcing of services for older Australians,” Mr Rooney told Australian Ageing Agenda.
“A longer implementation timeframe helps to mitigate costs by allowing providers to incorporate the process of explaining the new charter into ordinary care planning and engagement with clients.”
Mr Rooney said while LASA supported a single charter of rights, it had raised concerns with the government about the removal of consumer responsibilities as well the lack of public consultation on what is being proposed.
AAA sought a response from provider peak Aged & Community Services Australia.
A spokesperson for the peak said ACSA supported of a rights-based approach to aged care.
Focus on quality dementia care essential
Consumer peak Dementia Australia also welcomed the strengthened charter of rights.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said they looked forward to the implementation of the charter specifically in relation to the care of people living with dementia.
“In order for these protections to be realised we need to ensure quality dementia care is an essential focus of the care and support provided through these initiatives and is factored in as core business across the health and aged care sectors,” Ms McCabe said.
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