The aged care sector may need to put pressure on the government to see the royal commission’s recommendations come to life, an industry forum has heard.
StewartBrown senior partner Grant Corderoy said everyone in the aged care sector should remain vigilant in their calls for reform following the release of the royal commission’s final report.
The royal commissioners are due to hand the report to government this Friday, but previous inquiries show legislative and funding changes may be slow to follow, he said.
“We’ve got to be very cognisant of that and keep the pressure on,” Mr Corderoy told delegates at a webinar on Monday about the implications of royal commission’s recommendations.
He said the 124 recommendations made by Counsel Assisting were “far too many” and much higher than other royal commissions including the one into financial services, which made 76 recommendations in its final report on 1 February 2019.
“Only 27 of those are going to be legislated and at 1 January, 2021, 18 recommendations are implemented,” he said.
“Fifteen of those didn’t require legislation and they’re included in the 27. So it’s a fairly slow pace.”
Similarly slow, the royal commission into child sexual abuse made 190 recommendations in its final report in December 2017 but to date, no specific legislation has passed, Mr Corderoy said.
“The only major thing that’s happened is the establishment of the National Redress Scheme.”
“All aged care stakeholders including peak bodies representing workers, consumers and providers and the rest of the community “have to keep pressure on both the government and the opposition to make certain that we get substantial and easily understood reform from the royal commission,” he said.
Measures key to change
Mr Corderoy said Counsel Assisting’s recommendation for a single aged care program was key because it would driver proper reform and structural change.
The recommendation calls residential aged care, Home Care Packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Program to be combined into a new aged care program that retains the benefits of each to deliver a more comprehensive continuum of care for older people.
The current siloed approach is an issue, Mr Corderoy said.
“Commonwealth Home Support, Home Care Packages and residential aged care do not have any commonalities for their funding or from their assessment process to going through it. Even the policy direction is completely siloed. And this has been a massive inhibitor to what’s happening in aged care for many, many years.”
Independent or retirement living is another silo, he added.
Mr Corderoy called for a single funding system rather than the current use of grants and subsidies in home support and home care the Aged Care Funding Instrument in residential aged care.
He suggested the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC), which is the proposed new assessment and funding model currently being tested for residential aged care, as an approach going forward.
“This is a key area that the royal commission counsel assisting was saying ‘let’s remove the means-tested care fee and let’s have one basic funding all the way through,” Mr Corderoy said.
“Once they get to a higher level of care then [consumers] will pay for that as a user pay. But rather than having means testing for the current one, have it that everyone is entitled to a level of care based on their care needs,” he said.
“This is fundamental going forward, though we have to make sure that wherever the care is being delivered, the style of accommodation is appropriate for the person receiving the care,” he said.
Mr Corderoy said he was afraid the funding required would not come as soon as it was needed.
“I’m concerned that there’s going to be conflict between the different silos, so we need to have one silo in … all of aged care that people get assessed and move through.”
The webinar hosted by PACE Care took place on 22 February.