A senior restraint practitioner will be appointed to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) as part of the federal government’s response to the aged care royal commission final report.
Tabled in Parliament on Monday, the report made 148 recommendations to government. Among the recommendations, commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs have called for the Aged Care Act 1997 to be replaced, and for an independent office of the Inspector-General of Aged Care to be established.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and health minister Greg Hunt on Monday pledged $452.2 million to addressing immediate priorities in the aged care sector. In a statement, they said the government’s response would be underpinned by five pillars, including:
- Home Care: enhanced program oversight in home care packages ($18.4m).
- Residential aged care quality and safety: strengthening provider quality by enhancing the aged care quality standards and the ACQSC ($32m).
- Residential aged care services and sustainability: residential care temporary financial support ($189.9m), and residential care viability support fund ($90m).
- Workforce: growing a skilled aged care workforce to provide quality home care and residential care services ($91.8m).
- Governance: strengthening provider quality by improving provider governance and with a new Aged Care Act ($30.1m).
Hunt said work would immediately commence replacing the act .
The government has announced that a senior restraint practitioner will be appointed to ACQSC to lead an education campaign for the sector and general practitioners, to minimise the use of restraint, and bring practice into line with those in the disability sector. An assistant commissioner for sector capability, who will lead a “transformative change program”, will also be appointed.
While Pagone and Briggs have issued a number of joint recommendations in the final report, they have had differing views on some aspects.
Briggs has recommended that ACQSC be abolished by July 2022 and replaced with an independent Aged Care Safety and Quality Authority that has a board and CEO.
“The authority should have the overarching purpose of safeguarding the quality and safety of aged care through enforcing compliance with the act and standards,” the report said.
“In carrying out this purpose, the authority should actively engage with older people and their families and carers to ensure that their views are incorporated in the authority’s compliance and decision-making, and are kept informed of the outcome of regulatory activities.”
Briggs also called for the Department of Health to immediately be renamed the Department of Health and Aged Care, with an associate secretary “tasked with day-today responsibility for aged care”.
Meanwhile, Pagone has recommended that by July 2023, an Australian Aged Care Commission be established as a corporate commonwealth entity, which would include a presiding commissioner, a system commissioner, a quality commissioner, a complaints commissioner, a workforce development and planning commissioner, and an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander commissioner.
In a statement following the release of the report, Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Patricia Sparrow said that while it was disappointing the commissioners had differing views on some points, it was “by no means” an excuse to delay major aged care reform.
“There is no split on the need for a total overhaul that means providers are resourced to employ more staff and deliver more care and support. This cannot be used as an excuse to not progress major reforms. We know what the big problems are — we now need the big solutions,” she said.
“The government has announced $452.2m as a starting point for reform. We welcome this but the most important thing now is a complete overhaul. We need an overhaul, not just more top-ups, in order to guarantee respect for older Australians for future generations.”
Morrison said the government would outline its plan to “transform” aged care in the Budget.