Above: Former CEO of ACSA and aged care consultant, Greg Mundy
By Yasmin Noone
The National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) alone will not be a powerful enough force to convince the government to adopt the recommendations of the Productivity Commission (PC) and pass meaningful reform, aged care expert Greg Mundy said.
The former CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) and current aged care consultant has also warned the sector of the strong likelihood that the government could play political football with matters of detail instead of implementing the changes that the sector needs.
A public campaign for reform, in addition to the work of NACA is therefore what is needed to put pressure on the government from all angles.
“NACA is in a really good place but that doesn’t necessarily get reform over the line,” Mr Mundy said.
“There needs to be a public campaign of support. If the government is prepared to put resources into the NBN rollout then maybe it needs to put resources into explaining how the reforms will take place.
“Certainly, the more people saying that [this type of reform] is a good thing and needs to happen, the more effect it will have on politicians.”
“…It is good that bodies such as NACA support the reform agenda but this is unlikely to be sufficient to ensure its passage through the political and bureaucratic minefields,” the submission stated.
Transforming the culture of aged care from its “current provider centred, sheltered and funding silo culture to one built around the needs of consumers, that provides them with genuine choice and that is subject to competition will take time”.
“It will present challenges to governments and to the boards and management of aged care services all of whom have ‘grown up’ in the current paradigm.
“It will require a degree of political resolve and maturity from Australia’s politicians, to see and pursue the big picture rather than attempt to score points in matters of detail. It will require investment in strategic areas and recognition that high quality services cost money.”
Mr Mundy said that as time goes on and more people will read the finer details of the report, and ask more questions, as expected. This is because the task at hand is not as easy as what some people think – a massive change in the culture of aged care is required and while some will embrace reform, many others will not.
“With lots of people, [what is being suggested by the PC] hasn’t really tweaked,” Mr Mundy said.
“They all [commended the report] on 21 January and as time goes on they say they accept the report but then ‘There is this and this’.
The main point of his PC submission, he said, was to remind people and the PC that in order to achieve the vision, a new paradigm of care is needed.
“A change in people’s mindset, the industry’s and the department’s is a big task.
“That’s another one of the challenges that aged care has to face. The structure of the industry is centred around programs and providers. And some providers are reluctant to recognise that.
“[Change] will be difficult and it won’t happen on it’s own and it won’t happen with people doing things as they’ve always done them.
“There will be a need for the government to do things and for the industry to do things for themselves.
“Providers will have to think seriously about how to respond to competition.”
Reform, Mr Mundy said, will be like a “large unwieldy beast”.
“Sometimes you can change a few things and the culture will follow…There’s also the notion that if you change people’s behaviour, then their values and attitudes will change with it.
“If you change job structures and the way that organisations related to their clients, then that will change culture.
But, he said, “it will take a lot of work”.