Productivity Commissionís final aged care report disappointing

Published: 19 October 2011

On 8 August, the Productivity Commission released the final report of its Caring for Older Australians Inquiry.

The QNU, along with our federal counterpart, the ANF, made written submissions to the inquiry and our members gave evidence at public hearings.

We were therefore disappointed to find that although the report did contain some useful recommendations on the aged care crisis, it failed to address several key areas that the QNU and the ANF have been lobbying for in the Because We Care campaign.

Although the report recognised the need to pay fair and competitive wages to nursing and other care staff delivering approved aged care services, it did not recommend a mechanism to address this.

ANF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said the report doesnít offer real solutions to fixing Australiaís under-resourced aged care sector.

"It is inconceivable that the PC, after months of public hearings and submissions from nursing staff from the various states, fails to address the $500 million required to close the wages gap for nurses and assistants in nursing (AINs) working in the sector, Ms Thomas said.

"Aged care canít wait any longer Ė the Gillard Government must to step in now and make next yearís Budget the aged care Budget."

Overview

The Report focuses on the need for consumer choice and recommends a deregulation of the current system.

It also makes several recommendations to improve quality of care.

Other recommendations include:

  • A new independent regulatory authority.
  • Removal of regulatory restrictions on the number of community care packages and residential bed licenses.
  • Removal of the distinction between residential high care and low care places.
  • A government-backed Australian Aged Care Home Credit scheme to assist older Australians to make a co-contribution to the costs of their aged care and support.
  • An Australian Seniors Gateway Agency to provide information, needs assessment, care co-ordination and carer referral services.
  • Ensuring the accreditation standards for residential and community aged care are sufficient to deliver services across diverse communities.
  • Federal funding for the expansion of Ďteaching aged care servicesí in conjunction with universities and providers.

Disappointingly, there is no recommendation on licensing for AINs.

The report also acknowledges inefficiencies in medication administration, yet makes no specific recommendations on this or the requirement for appropriate skill mix.

Together with the ANF, we will continue to focus on the federal government, urging it to honour its commitment to fix Australiaís aged care system in its second term through specific funding for aged care nursesí wages.

We must continue to ensure that nursing care remains in aged care.

You can access the full report by going to www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/aged-care/report

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