National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke.
National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke. .

Call for candidates to commit to aged care boost

National Seniors Australia is calling on all federal election candidates to commit to repairing and boosting Australia's aged care system and safeguarding the health and safety of vulnerable older Australians.

The advocacy group is urging all candidates to triple the number of level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages, require all aged care providers to publish staff-to-resident ratios, and ensure all aged care staff have completed appropriate certificates including training in dementia care.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said aged care deficiencies were top of mind of Australians following the Royal Commission into Aged Care, and that it was incumbent on our parliamentarians to take the lead.

"Our policies offer practical ways to improve aged care now and minimise further calamity as more older people attempt to access an already stressed system,” Mr Henschke said.

"While we welcome recent announcements by Labor and the Coalition of free dental care for some seniors and funding for aged care research, training and addressing loneliness, the big issue that must be addressed is the massive undersupply of level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages.”

The Royal Commission heard evidence last year more than 16,000 people died waiting for a package.

National Seniors is calling for a tripling of the number of level 3 and 4 Home Care Packages to cater for the clear preference of Australians to age in their homes.

Mr Henschke said this would help eliminate the current unacceptably long waiting list and improve the quality of life for people waiting for care.

"Older Australians are dying waiting for care packages, suffering health deterioration and being forced into residential care,” he said.

National Seniors is also calling for the mandatory publication of residential staff-to-resident ratios to improve and make transparent the quality of care services.

Mr Henschke said aged care providers should be required to regularly collate the information as part of day-to-day workforce planning.

"Staffing information should be published on the My Aged Care website so consumers are better informed when choosing a home and inquiring about the level of care their loved receives,” he said.

To cater for the growing number of older people with dementia, all aged care staff must undergo qualified training in caring for people with that disease. National Seniors welcomes this recent decision of the new Industry Reference Committee.

"Many of our members are concerned about the skills and qualifications of staff and this policy, backed by other respected organisations including Dementia Australia, would enhance the quality of care,” Mr Henschke said.

"Trained staff can better manage dementia symptoms, help ease conflict in care settings and assist in the reduction of physical and chemical restraints, which are overused.”

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