Failing system requires nearly half a billion dollars for immediate “fix”

March 4, 2021 BY

A final report featuring 148 recommendations has been handed down with a further response from the federal government expected to be delivered in May.

A ROYAL Commission into Aged Care has uncovered the extent of the failing system with the Federal Government committing nearly half a billion dollars to its immediate fixing.

The final report handed down on Friday found one in three people accessing these services have experienced substandard care.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Minister for Health Greg Hunt announced an initial $425 million budget to “fix” the failing aged care system during Monday’s press conference.

The “harrowing process” was first called into investigation by Mr Morrison in September 2018 when the quality and safety of in-home and residential aged care facilities came under fire.

The final report proposed 148 recommendations with Commissioner Tony Pagone QC saying a “fundamental reform to the system is required”.

The report follows a two-year investigation that included 23 public hearings with more than 600 witnesses and more than 10,000 public submissions.

Inside the recommendations, commissioners called for home care packages to be approved within one month, waiting lists to be cleared by the end of the year, a further restriction on anti-psychotic medication and minimum levels of training to be introduced to aged care workers.

Mr Hunt has called the five-year roadmap currently being discussed, “ambitious, challenging but achievable”.

Under the immediate response the government will roll-out additional audits into home and residential care providers, as well as implementing a new quality control system and protection against chemical and physical restraint.

A new aged care act will also be put in place that will take the focus from funding providers to respecting the individual needs, with Mr Hunt calling the shift a “fundamental generational transformation”.

Mr Morrison said the final cost of the overhaul will not be established prior to the release of the Federal budget in May.

“This is an initial announcement to correspond with the release of the report,” Mr Morrison said.

“The fiscal element in this package has not been framed yet and I am not going to make any assumptions.

“We will carefully consider them all and exercise our judgement with the best way to go forward.”

Despite an overwhelming need to reform the “failures and shortfalls” of the aged care system, conflicting recommendations have arisen in the final report.

“The fact the commissioners have come to different views, I think highlights the complexity of this problem,” Mr Morrison said.

A conflicting element in the report was surrounding whether there was a need for an independent watchdog to oversee the aged care system.

The recommendation comes as an attempt to break the cycle of failed attempts made by governments in the past, while the arguments against the independent body say that it will reduce ministers’ accountability.

The $450 million already announced makes up less than three per cent of the total annual budget for aged care.

A clear response to the recommendations is expected to be made along with the federal budget in May.