Aged Care

Royal Commission Final Report’s Recommendations for Aged Care: Top 5 Things You Need to Know

A nurse and an elderly resident walk in the park
Anthea Leong
July 15, 2022
1 min read
A nurse and an elderly resident walk in the park

The Australian aged care Royal Commission, established in 2018, issued the final report with 148 recommendations on 26 February 2021. They have been sent to the Australian government for consideration.

With over five chapters and 148 recommendations, the Royal Commission final report is a lengthy one. Don’t worry, we went through all the recommendations and here are the top 5 things you need to know!

What is the Aged Care Royal Commission?

The Australian Royal Commission finalises the Royal Commission final report into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia established the aged care Royal Commission in 2018.

Two individuals are appointed as commissioners – The Honourable Tony Pagone QC and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO. The Royal Commission plays an essential role in the aged care industry in Australia. They provide the Australian government with recommendations to adopt. These recommendations come from real-life case studies and research over a long time.

Before releasing the Royal Commission final report, the commissioners delivered an interim report in October 2019  and a COviD-19 report last October.

What is the Royal Commission Final Report?

You might ask – with the interim and COVID-19 report, what is the purpose of releasing the Royal Commission final report?

Unlike the others, the final report is more comprehensive. In the final report, the Royal Commissioners put forth a whopping 148 recommendations calling for the Australian aged care system’s fundamental reform.

The Royal Commission final report is generally about the future of aged care. To understand the needs of aged care in the future, the final report helps us to understand the problems in the aged care system today. With four volumes, the final report is here to set out the vision for the future of aged care in Australia.

Why is the Royal Commission final report so important?

Over the past two years and through more than 10,500 submissions and 600 witnesses. The commissioners have had extensive evidence of the system in crisis.

They found out that the elderly in Australia have been suffering from a decline in aged care quality. This was due to the decrease in funding as successive governments diverted funding elsewhere, leaving the industry with the “bare minimum”.

However, the Royal Commission final report’s release signalled and pushed for a massive investment in the aged care industry. This report called out two decades of dividends cut of more than $9.8 billion from the annual aged care budget.

Commissioner Lynelle Briggs claimed that an estimated 13-18% of aged care residents had experienced physical and sexual assault. Thus, the Royal Commission final report aims to shed light on the struggles and inequalities faced in the aged care industry. In doing so, the commission also hopes to bring about well-needed change in the foundations of this industry.

Recommendations in the Royal Commission final report

The commissioners put forth 148 recommendations, of which are a mixture of large and smaller recommendations. Australia’s aged care system will transform over the next five years once the recommendations are adopted.

While 148 recommendations seem frightening, and a hefty read, we have shortlisted five that you need to know!

The top 5 recommendations you need to know:

  1. A new act
  2. Australia needs a rights-based aged care system
  3. Stronger governance focusing on aged care
  4. Improved care for informal caregivers and volunteers
  5. Better aged care workforce planning

Recommendation 1: A new Act

One of the main recommendations from the Royal Commission final report is for a new act to replace the Aged Care Act 1997. This change has been urged to come into force by no later than 1 July 2023. In this new act, it must be guided by a few key principles.

One of the new act’s guiding principles is to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of people receiving aged care. The act should also recognise the importance of relationships that older people have with their loved ones. Moreover, it should also prioritise innovation and continuous improvement of the industry.

In other words, the new act should urge aged care providers to prioritise visits to aged care facilities. These visits should carry on even with COVID-19 restrictions unless a lockdown is ordered. To encourage safe visits, aged care providers can also adopt new technology, such as visitor management systems.

With the new act recommended by the Royal Commission final report, the aged care industry looks positive for an upcoming change.

A rights-based aged care system is strongly encouraged.

Recommendation 2: Rights-based aged care system

Under the new act proposed in the Royal Commission final report, it should also strive for a rights-based aged care system. It should specify a list of rights of people who are seeking and receiving aged care.

Some of which includes:

  • The right to equitable access to care services.
  • Right to freedom from degrading or inhumane treatment or any form of abuse.
  • The right to voice opinions and make complaints.
  • Right of informal caregivers to reasonable access to support according to needs and enable reasonable enjoyment of social participation.

A rights-based aged care system is a 180-degree change from the current ration-based system. This would bring aged care more in line with the principles of Medicare. This would also mean that there will no longer be a limit to the number of people in the system. The waiting list for receiving aged care will disappear over time.

This signifies a considerable chance that can enable older Australians to have more choice and control over their care.

Recommendation 3: Stronger governance

Australian aged care system has been faced with ineffective governance and weak regulation. The Royal Commission final report calls for more robust aged care governance.

Quality of aged care can be improved by new aged care councils.

Some examples of councils are:

  • The Council of Elders
  • Inspector-General of Aged Care
  • Aged Care Advisory Council
  • Australian Aged Care Pricing Authority
  • Aged Care Safety and Quality Authority

Therefore, the release of the Royal Commission final report will encourage stronger aged care governance which will further benefit the aged care population.

Recommendation 4: Care for informal carers and volunteers

As important as improving the quality of aged care is the need for care for informal carers and volunteers. Informal carers and volunteers are the backbones of caring for the elderly. With aged care organisations understaffed, informal carers and volunteers step in.

Thus, the Royal Commission final report calls for improvement in services and support for informal carers.

Primary informal carer should have access to formal respite care and other supports available. In the process, it should also look into amending the National Employment Standards under Part 2-2 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to provide an additional entitlement to unpaid carer’s leave.

Recommendation 5: Aged care workforce planning

Other than help for informal carers, the Royal Commission final report also calls for better support and planning for formal carers. The final report called for better wages and a new scheme for all aged care workers.

Further, aged care organisations will need to report staffing hours daily. This is to breakdown residents’ time with registered nurses and staff and to ensure that they are not overworked.

It is strongly encouraged that the Australian government establish an Aged Care Workforce Planning Division within the Australian Department of Health by 1 January 2022 to oversee aged care workforce planning.

In summary

With a total of 148 recommendations made in the Royal Commission final report, the above are the top five that we feel are crucial and important to know. 2020 might have been a difficult year for the Australian aged care industry but with all these recommendations, there is hope that the aged care industry will be changed for the better!

Read this article if you’d like a short summary of the Government’s response to these recommendations.

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