December 2018 saw a boost of positivity towards the Aged Care sector with the Australian Government announcing an investment of $287 million dollars in order to provide an additional 10,000 Home Care Packages.
This funding is expected to increase the number of Level 3 and Level 4 high care packages to become available from Dec/Jan through to June 2019. It is also hoped that this will alleviate some of the pressure of the current wait list and boost the support available to those currently in receipt of Level 1 and 2 Packages waiting for higher care.
The new Aged Care Quality and Safety Committee have commenced operations as of 1 January 2019 to replace the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner.
Their role is to protect and enhance the safety, health, well-being and quality of life of clients receiving aged care. Through independent accreditation, assessments and monitoring aged care services (subsidised by the Australian Government) they aim to promote high quality care and services to safeguard clients receiving funded care.
Through engagement with and education for consumers and providers, they will work to ensure trust, empowerment and compliance with the quality standards. This is also promoted by the focus of the government to combine the auditing and complains management functionalities to support better engagement with consumers and providers and promote transparency.
It is also important to note that from 1 January 2020 the aged care provider applications and compliance functions will transfer across from the Department of Health to the new quality and safety committee.
Australia’s Aged Care Royal Commission has commenced its first Public Sitting on 19th January, to hear Commissioner Briggs’ and Tracey’s initial thoughts on how the Commission will operate.
Statements were also heard from Senior Council members on the future of the inquiry, and initial responses from the 83 largest Aged Care Providers asked to detail information about their services late December 2018.
The Royal Commission process initially commenced with 100 large aged care providers (residential and aged care) in Australia being asked to answer questions about how they treat their residents/clients, the quality of care they provide and any significant issues that have been raised as concerns over the past 5 years.
Patterns have already been noted in relation to residential care concerns, elder abuse, mismanagement of medication, issues of food safety and overuse of psychotropic medications and will be investigated further as part of the commission.
The Commissions first significant hearing will be on 11th February and public hearings, together with round-table and community consultations will continue across each State and Territory through 2019, into 2020.