Counsel Assisting notes key aspects of Victoria’s public sector aged care

October 29, 2020

Greater oversight of aged care in Australia, including a national commission, was one of 124 recommendations made by Counsel Assisting to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety at their final hearing last week.

The 124 recommendations and summary, which would radically change aged care delivery if implemented, were presented by Peter Rozen QC and Peter Gray QC at the Royal Commission’s final hearing on 22 and 23 October 2020, with the Counsel Assisting suggesting minimum mandatory staffing, a new Aged Care Act, a new pricing body, a new cabinet body and an Australian Aged Care Commission which would be largely responsible for overseeing the new system.

Overall, there would be more oversight, with greater emphasis on quality standards, quality indicators and financial oversight and requirements.

Counsel Assisting used the hearing to draw attention to the high standard of outcomes and quality measures in Victorian public sector residential aged care services (PSRACS) compared to privately, federally-regulated, profit, not-for-profit or family-run facilities. Disappointingly, however, there is no mention of PSRACS in their proposed recommendations.

In their final submission, Counsel assisting noted: ‘We point out two aspects of Victorian Government run residential aged care facilities which are notable: firstly, the compulsory quality indicator program which is operated in Victoria and to which I will return in a moment; and, secondly, that there are prescribed ratios of nurses to residents in Victorian Government run services and have been since 2000. I will return to that issue shortly as well.’

There are also proposed recommendations which align with recommendations that the VHA made in submissions on behalf of members. These include:

  • creating MBS items for a comprehensive health assessment, mental health assessments, mental health reviews, and allied mental health practitioners.
  • maintaining and extending the Multi-Purpose Services Program in the new aged care system, including requiring consumers to make payments towards care and accommodation like other aged care residents, as well as permitting MPSs to access all aged care funding programs on the same basis as other aged care providers; with state/territories establishing a costs-shared capital grants process.
  • developing workforce modelling and minimum staffing requirements
  • establishing a two-year scheme to improve the quality of the current aged care workforce, which should reimburse providers of home support, home care and residential aged care for the cost of education and training of the direct care workforce employed.

The VHA is preparing a member briefing on the final hearings and the recommendations, which will be released early next month. The VHA is also exploring next steps for advocacy and member engagement, with further information to be released to members soon.

Responses are invited before the 12 November on the 124 recommendations and summary provided by Counsel Assisting, and the VHA invites your contribution to a sector-wide submission.

The Royal Commission will release its final report, and recommendations, in February 2021.