Aged care focus of budget in reply speech

By Tom Ravlic

April 1, 2022

Anthony Albanese
Anthony Albanese delivers his Budget Reply Speech. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

A Labor government would impose tougher regulations on the aged care sector to ensure higher quality, opposition leader Anthony Albanese said in his budget reply speech last night.

The address covered the already announced climate change package and flagged cheaper child care, but it was the aged care policy announcement that was the centrepiece of the Albanese address.

Albanese said there were five key measures that needed to be put in place to improve the quality of life in aged care, following findings of the aged care royal commission that revealed the poor state of care provided to aged care residents across institutions.

“The global pandemic and a royal commission have confirmed what so many Australians already knew — that our aged-care system is in crisis,” Albanese said.

“More of us are living long enough to need extra care in our later years but, currently, that thought fills a generation of Australians and their families with dread.”

Albanese said people had been “chilled by stories of unforgivable neglect” in the aged care sector and that the ALP’s policy will help fix several key problem areas.

The first of the measures aired flagged by Albanese during his address was the mandatory requirement that every aged care home will be required to have a registered and qualified nurse on-site at all times.

“This will save thousands of stressful, expensive and ultimately unnecessary trips to hospital emergency departments for issues which a nurse, with all of their skills, could solve on the spot,” Albanese said.

“Every Australian living in aged care should get the medical attention they need the moment they need it, day or night. This is just common sense, and it is common decency.”

The policy also proposes an increase in carers so that people living in aged care will receive a minimum of 215 minutes of care each day so that interactions with carers will not just be related to medical issues, but they are able to have conversations about other matters that ensures they have some company.

This proposal is also accompanied by a commitment to back a pay rise for aged-care workers.

“If we want higher standards of care, we need to support higher wages for our carers. We know, if we want to recruit and retain more carers to look after a population that’s growing older, we need to treat their vital and essential work with respect and reward it with better pay,” Albanese said.

The aged care royal commission revealed that aged care residents in some facilities were not being fed appropriately and that the fourth element of the policy was to tighten regulation to ensure that nutrition standards were upheld.

“A Labor government will work with the sector to develop and implement mandatory nutrition standards for aged-care homes to ensure that every resident gets good food — tasty and nutritious meals which respect cultural, religious and dietary requirements,” Albanese said.

The final element of the aged care package announced by Albanese was the increase in powers for the aged-care safety commissioner and to ensure that care providers provide publicly available reports on how they spend money they are given by government.

Albanese also said if elected, a Labor government would provide more funding, more staff and better support to the aged care sector.


READ MORE:

‘Demographic destiny’ of aged-care workforce dire

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