One year on – Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

March 1, 2022

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety delivered its final report on 21 February 2021 and it was tabled in Parliament on 1 March 2021.

 

The Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety contained 148 recommendations, with the aim of redesigning the national aged care system after years of well-publicised failings and concerns. The final report, while ground-breaking, was inhibited by key divides around regulation and aged care funding. This structural weakness has led to a more incremental approach to reform and implementation, with the Commonwealth Government setting out a five-year plan, based on five pillars, to deliver the Royal Commission’s vision.

There has been increased funding, more training places, and more Home Care Packages, but one year on the system is otherwise largely unchanged. However, activity has begun on reforms that should have a more substantive impact over the next year.

VHA engagement and advocacy

The VHA has supported and engaged with reform efforts across the last year on behalf of members, having welcomed the final report but expressing concern at the potential impact of the Commissioner divide. This included advocating at a national level through our position in the National Aged Care Alliance, while also engaging with the Victorian Department of Health to present a united Victorian position.

A critical advocacy effort included a submission to the Parliamentary Committee convened for the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response Bill No.2) Bill 2021. In the submission, the VHA expressed concern around the lack of financial support for public sector residential aged care (PSRAC) services, while welcoming the removal of adjustment subsidy reduction, which was a key recommendation for the VHA and members during the Royal Commission.

The VHA has primarily focused on supporting aged care members through the COVID-19 pandemic, having established a stronger relationship with standalone PSRACs over the past year. The VHA has advocated strongly around visitation, workforce issues and PPE shortages, especially during the recent Omicron surge.

Next steps

The VHA will continue to engage with the reform process over the coming year.

We are currently engaged in efforts relating to aged care funding, regulatory alignment between disability and aged care and a new regulatory framework. We will ensure that our members are kept up to date with reforms and how they are likely to impact service delivery.

The VHA will continue to represent member interests as services continue to deal with the impact of COVID-19, and its impact on their ability to engage with the reform process.

The VHA also plans to represent member interests through the upcoming Commonwealth and Victorian elections and will engage members on this shortly.