The federal government will spend almost half a billion dollars on immediate measures to overhaul the aged care sector following the release of a damning royal commission report.
The final report, released by commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs, makes 148 recommendations following two years of an investigation into the sector.
The recommendations include approving home care packages within one month from the date of a person’s assessment and clearing the waitlist by the end of the year.
It also recommends putting the power to prescribe anti-psychotic drug in the hands of a psychiatrist or a geriatrician, to restrict their use in residential aged care.
“Life is to be lived. No matter how old we are, how frail or incapacitated we might be, how rich or poor, we all have the fundamental right to wellbeing, enjoyment and fulfilment as we age,” Commissioner Briggs said in the final report.
“In order for this aspiration to become reality, our aged care system must be founded on the principles of unfailing compassion – care, dignity and respect.”
The commissioners have called for all staff in aged care to have a minimum level of training in line with the childcare sector.
The Aged Care Act must be replaced, according to the report, a recommendation the government has accepted.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the royal commission process as a “harrowing” but praised the work of the commissioners.
“What they’ve said is the basic paradigm needs to change and I agree,” he said.
“We need to make generational change so that individualised needs and needs-based care is developed, that respects the dignity of the individual Australian.”
Mr Morrison announced the royal commission into the aged care sector in 2018, following what he called a “disturbing” trend of non-compliance and failures in the industry.
It was one of his first major decisions since becoming Prime Minister.
The initial chair of the commission, Richard Tracey QC, died in 2019, weeks after being diagnosed with a terminal cancer.
The final report includes different recommendations from commissioners Pagone and Briggs, which the Prime Minister said was the result of “the complexity of this problem”.
He warned changes would take “considerable time” and flagged the report noted a five-year time frame.
“The royal commission has now, I think, set out a very important roadmap which I think will establish generational change in the country when it comes to aged care,” he said.
“It’s the inquiry we needed to have.”
Council on the Ageing Australia chief executive Ian Yates said it was now the government’s responsibility to map out the structural reforms.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” he said.
“We need a major transformation of the system and older Australians shouldn’t wait a day longer than needed to be guaranteed choice, dignity and quality in aged care.”
He added the government’s priority must be ensuring everyone could access care in their own homes by the end of 2022.
The government announced a package on Monday, including $190 million for temporary financial support and $92 million to develop the aged care workforce.
Aged care complaints
- Complaints about aged care facilities can be made to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822
- Older Persons Advocacy Network organisations can assist with a range of free Advocacy, Information and Education services. Call them on 1800 700 600. Or, complete the general inquiry form.