The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety published its final report at the end of February, with far reaching recommendations for a complete reform of Australia’s aged care system. The recommendations consider significant structural reforms to the funding and delivery of aged care, and the legislation and bodies that govern it. At the moment this is ‘just’ a very comprehensive set of recommendations – some of which include alternative options. We don’t know yet which of the recommendations the Federal Government will accept and introduce, but we do know that they have committed to working through the recommendations as part of the budgeting process. There’s political pressure for systemic change in aged care, so whilst we may not see all recommendations adopted, we should expect to see major transformation of the sector in the years to come.
We anticipate that we’ll be talking a lot more about the Royal Commission over coming months – and years – including the systems that will develop to govern and regulate the provision of aged care. For now, we’re concentrating on the impacts on providers. Michael Lye, Department of Health Deputy Secretary responsible for Ageing and Aged Care, has already flagged that this will require a transformation from aged care providers, similar to that experienced by disability service providers as they transitioned to the NDIS. He should know – Lye was formerly Deputy Secretary responsible for disability and carers policy at the Department of Social Services. He has already laid down a challenge to providers that it will take strong leadership and workforce changes to transform aged care provision.
Here we consider some of the key themes of the Commission’s report and recommendation, and the actions that providers can take now in preparation for change.