Exploring Royal Commission Aged Care Recommendations.

In June 2020, Matt Durston, Managing Director of Allocate Software, APAC facilitated a live webinar with two of Australia’s aged care industry experts, Patricia Sparrow and Richard Ainley. Both panelists have a deep understanding of the industry and the challenges faced by aged care workers, residents and healthcare providers. In this latest blog. Matt provides an overview of the discussion together with observations and interpretations from the Australian Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report.

 

Recently I had the pleasure of facilitating a live webinar with two of Australia’s aged care industry experts, Patricia Sparrow and Richard Ainley. The discussion explored observations and interpretations from the Australian Aged Care Royal Commission’s Interim Report.  Both panelists have a deep understanding of the industry and the challenges faced by aged care workers, residents and healthcare providers.

I found the discussion invaluable and a reminder of how crucial it is to keep the conversation going in order to gain momentum towards aged care reform.
You can watch the full discussion here

Main observations and insights from the Interim Report

The report did not wholly shine a positive light on the industry. Instead it served as a ‘burning platform’ to instigate much needed change and wider community discussion on the type of aged care system Australians want for the future.

Patricia Sparrow commented, “What’s really important is the next phase and what the system should look like … the Royal Commission is our best opportunity for reform of the system”.  Richard Ainley followed stating, “Acknowledgment and support of the aged care workers who have been providing care ‘in spite of the system’ is also needed”.

The industry as a whole has, and always will have, many challenges, though the will exists to progress at speed, implementing change and delivering a better and more sustainable future.

People and culture play an integral role in the care industry. So, what does ‘good’ look like?

Richard Ainley recognized providers who have taken the recommendations from the interim report and positively gained from the process by looking at these from a “continuous improvement perspective” rather than searching for someone to blame. “It is the ability to build an organisation that is centered on the person, the client, their family and the workforce to provide holistic care”, he noted.

To be able to build a system focusing on complete care, the panel highlighted that there is currently a mismatch between what the community expects, in the form of a traditional nursing home with hospital capabilities, compared with today’s aged care facilities that are not funded in the same way as hospitals and have fewer resources.

Research conducted by the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong found that more than half of all Australian aged care residents are in homes with staffing levels that would only be rated one or two stars in the United States’ five star rating system.

To raise the standard for all Australian aged care homes to at least a three-star rating would require an average increase of 37.3%  – and an increase of 20% in total residential aged care staffing across Australia.

Community debate is required to agree on the aged care model we want to see for Australia and how this can be funded.

What are the financial implications for organisations implementing the recommended changes?

Providers were already under financial strain prior to COVID-19 and the release of the Interim Report. It was highlighted in the StewartBrown September 2019 Aged Care Financial Performance Survey that 60% were operating at a loss and up to 75% in rural and remote areas.

If there is increased acuity of residents in care and an expectation of ‘hospital-like’ care, the funding model needs to be reconsidered If it is to better match the $280 per day allowance for an aged care resident versus the $1200 per day for someone receiving sub-acute services in the acute system.

How has the industry dealt with COVID-19 and how does this change the Royal Commission recommendations?

COVID-19 highlighted deficiencies in the current aged care model and the need to access external support to meet the safety needs of residents.

The panel acknowledged the innovation that workers and providers demonstrated, such as developing new ways for isolated residents to maintain contact with their families. As noted by Richard, some organisations may otherwise have taken 10 years to implement what was achieved in three months.

What are the priority actions that need to be taken as a result of the Interim Report and its recommendations?

The panel identified several next steps they believe are key to moving forward with the system’s overhaul.

  • Wider community discussion regarding what is currently being delivered and what the future model of aged care should look like.
  • Understand what funding is required and how the reformed system will be financed.
  • Strengthen the mechanisms for governance and accountability.
  • Improve the interface between the aged care and the healthcare systems.
  • Consideration of a system that provides choice and is centered around the person.

Key to reform is maintaining the momentum of conversation between the community, healthcare providers, the government and the older Australians who rely on an improved system.

At Allocate, we are committed to solving workforce challenges and supporting the aged care sector. If you wish to discuss any of the issues in this blog or would like further information on how Allocate can support you, please get in touch and let’s keep the conversation going.

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