Over the last 12 months we have heard a lot about the health and well-being of older Australians and the aged care services that support them on a day-to-day basis. This is largely due to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the COVID-19 pandemic. Both will have a significant impact on the Aged Care policy landscape moving forward.
In 2017-2018 over 1.2 million people accessed over 9000 aged care services from 3000 providers. There are several types of aged care services which includes residential aged care facilities and a range of services which support people to live in their own home such as the provision of meals, home cleaning or taking people to appointments, to name a few. As we continue to live longer this figure is expected to grow with more people requiring access to these services. This will continue to put a strain on a system which the Royal Commission has already identified as requiring a ‘fundamental overhaul’ in its interim report.
Additionally, no one could foreshadow a pandemic which would shut down the country (and the world) and severely impact major services including aged care providers. The Department of Health has been driving the response to the pandemic through setting up the COVID-19 National Incident Room, delivering the COVIDSafe app, developing resources and tools for the health and aged care sectors and their staff (such as online training modules). This shows how quickly we can develop and implement policy and make changes to our systems when there is an inherent need.
But what happens as we start to ease restrictions, and move from reacting to a pandemic to planning for the future? The final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is due later this year and the recommendations will need to be carefully considered by the government and aged care sector. The impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic will also influence re-design and development of aged care policy, requiring significant stakeholder engagement with the sector and organisations such as the Aged Care Workforce Industry Council when developing this policy.
Improving the system through reform is key to its sustainability. Parbery is looking forward to supporting the future development of Aged Care Policy through our recent appointment to the Department of Health Aged Care Policy Panel. Our people have extensive experience in developing government policy for the health and aged care sectors and are passionate about improving the system for the benefit of our older Australians.