© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Continuing last week's discussion of the recent Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, today I put forward the recommendations of the 148 recommendations (divided into 26 chapters) I would like to see funded in the 2021 Federal Budget.
In doing so, I have assessed the Royal Commission's recommendations against those in my 10-page submission to the Royal Commission of March 2019.
1. Build carer workforce capacity and wages
You can have world-leading aged care administrative systems coming out of Canberra but if you don't have a quality workforce caring for Australians, you'll get nowhere. You need to invest in developing a quality workforce!
The lack of quality carers for in-home care and residential care is something I witness regularly as distressed family members call on me to replace their existing care provider with a quality provider.
My clients benefit from my own due diligence of care service providers, and gain access to quality carers.
They privately pay for my care concierge service.
I firmly believe that all older Australians, when they contact a care service provider, should have peace of mind that the provider has care workers in place who:
- Are experienced in delivering aged care,
- Hold no criminal record or breach of Aged Care legislation and regulations,
- Are proficient in English,
- Are passionate about their role in providing care, and
- Are paid well.
To me, the 12 recommendations falling under the Chapter 12 "The Aged Care Workforce" are the core recommendations needing immediate attention if the country is to achieve quality and safety in aged care.
There needs to be:
- Workforce planning at a national level (Recommendation 75).
- A national registration scheme of care workers requiring minimum qualifications, with workers able to apply for registration on the basis of prior experience. We don't want older workers in the sector retiring for lack of interest in completing a Certificate III course. (Recommendation 77).
- Dementia and palliative care training for staff providing this type of care (Recommendation 80).
- Ongoing professional development of care workers (Recommendation 81).
- Increases in care worker award wages and remuneration (Recommendations 84 and 85).
Recommendation 86 suggests that in residential facilities, a minimum of 200 minutes (3 hours and 20 minutes) of staff care be given to each resident per day, with 40 minutes of that care time being provided by registered nurses. While this is wonderful in theory, the Federal Government will need to pour substantial funds into residential facilities to bolster staffing levels to provide for this amount of care.
2. Promote volunteering
Recommendation 44 suggests a mechanism for encouraging more volunteering in aged care. How simple is that! We have a ready pool of retirees out there who I know would be enriched by spending time with senior Australians who have so many stories to share.
Their volunteering would bring much needed support to family members and help lower that heart-wrenching 50% of nursing home residents who receive no visitors.
3. A single comprehensive assessment process
Currently there are different assessment processes for different levels of need. This is confusing to consumers. It needs to be brought together into the one single comprehensive assessment process as put forward in Recommendations 25 and 28.
4. Eliminate the wait home care lists
Recommendation 39 asks the Federal Government to eliminate the current home care package wait list by 31 December 2021 and for home care packages to be issued within one month of the date of the consumer's assessment.
Currently, my clients wait anywhere between 12 to 18 months for a home care package. They end up paying for this care privately and often, once the package is finally issued by the Federal Government, it comes too late. The recipient has died or has had to move on to applying for residential care.
I support this recommendation though question whether there are currently enough quality care workers available to provide the care.
5. Dementia support pathway
Currently there are around 400,000 to 459,000 Australians living with dementia. There needs to be a dementia support pathway and adequate specialist dementia care services for suffers and their carers (Recommendation 15 and 16) and training for care workers in the field (Recommendation 80).
That's my top five areas of focus and we'll see if the 2021 Federal Budget puts the money aside to address them. I'll report back in May!
If you need assistance in finding quality carers, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion.
I am here to help explain the aged care system and how to set up the right care, support and assistance for you or your loved one, at the right time and in the right place.