COVID-19 AND THE ROYAL COMMISSION

covid-19 and what comes after the royal commission

The Royal Commission Counsel Assisting’s final submission to the Commissioners was delivered on October 22nd 2020 with much discussion and commentary ensuing from within the Aged Care Industry.

What does this mean and what comes next?

The Royal Commission Counsel Assisting submitted to the commissioners a summary based on the evidence given and the findings throughout the Royal Commission to date. The Commissioners review this, and industry representatives can make 300-word formal responses to the submission until November 12th. From that point, the Commissioner’s collate a final report with findings and recommendations.

Despite insight into areas of focus and suggestions to be presented, there is no guarantee that this report, due February 2021, will match what we have heard to date. Further to this, there is no guarantee that the Government response expected in May 2021 will align with the Commissioner’s viewpoints, something on which the Prime Minister has chosen not to comment.

What did the submission say?

In a nutshell, the evidence before the Royal Commission supports a finding that high-quality care is not being delivered throughout Australia’s aged care system. Never has a more obvious point been made.

Of the one hundred and twenty-four submissions made, the recommendations that will receive the most attention will perhaps be the following:

– The formation of an independent Aged Care Commissioner role with responsibility for policy development, needs assessment, workforce issues, planning, governance and assessment, among other functions. There is some argument that the Government will not accept this recommendation.

  – A new Aged Care Act to be developed- this needs to be ready to go if endorsed as the Aged Care industry has waited long enough.

– Intersecting the preference to stay in the home with an increase of Home Care Packages to clear the waiting list, and keep waiting times at nil, with accountability for this at government level.

– The establishment of a pricing authority that would recommend subsidy levels set prices and recommend funding arrangements to address current variations in a limited market. Additional funding would be made available, but only with submission of annual reports to improve transparency.

– Setting standards separated from regulatory bodies; addressing the vast disparity between the best and the worst levels of care within the framework of the Aged Care Standards.

– More generous financial support for smaller, more individualised care accommodations (i.e. villages) rather than more extensive institutionalised facilities. This adjustment would not exclude large players from the market but would require a mindset shift for those currently in receipt of funding for more extensive operations.

– Antipsychotic restraint use regulated with GPs no longer allowed to prescribe and prescriptions only allowed by gerontologists and psychiatrists. In theory, a nice idea, but one with many practical drawbacks.

These recommendations need to be thought through, approved and endorsed by the Government. If they do survive all levels, then they will become a part of a ten-year plan to overhaul aged care. We hope the impact of the evidence given throughout the Royal Commission is not diluted or forgotten by the time these changes are implemented.

Healthcare Australia’s Online Learning Platform empowers aged care organisations to train employees with the skills needed to achieve compliance, minimise risk and develop workforce capability.

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