AGED CARE: Government announcements herald major Aged Care changes.
AGED CARE: Government announcements herald major Aged Care changes.

Positive Aged Care changes ahead leaving bad times behind

THERE are several important and welcome Aged Care changes afoot for venues and the workforce.

Yesterday Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt confirmed the passage of the Single Aged Care Quality Framework legislation - a momentous improvement in policy which had been in place for 20 years.

The legislation brings together the four previous sets of Aged Care standards into one.

"Under the draft new regulations, aged care providers' governing bodies and boards will be legally accountable for safety and quality," Minister Wyatt said.

"There will be mandatory clinical frameworks for each home including disease control, open disclosure, and minimising the use of restraint. The focus will be on client care, with providers having to prove their care and services are safe, effective and customer-centred."

Previously announced is the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission which comes into place by January 1, 2019 and will take over regulatory functions of the Department of Health, including provider approvals, quality and prudential compliance, and compulsory reporting.

The Government has allocated $50 million to assist aged care providers to transition to the new standards.

Today Minister Wyatt has announced another vital initiative - a blueprint for the Australia's rapidly growing Aged Care workforce which is estimated to require a three-fold increase to a staggering one million workers by 2050 to support close to 3.5 million people in Aged Care.

The Aged Care Workforce Taskforce's A matter of care - a strategy for Australia's aged care workforce, is designed to help shift attitudes to caring careers, and enhance the quality of life of senior Australians.

It's industry focused and identifies fourteen strategic actions to help the aged care industry to address current and future workforce challenges.

The strategy recognises that the care needs of older Australians are growing increasingly complex, with a high incidence of multiple chronic conditions, including dementia, and changing community expectations.

Aged & Community Services Australia chief executive Pat Sparrow, who was a member of the Workforce Taskforce, said, "Workforce is one of the most pressing issues for the sector into the future".

"The blueprint correctly identifies that attracting and retaining the right staff is going to be critical to tackling this challenge. We will work with government to implement the practical suggestions for how industry can make aged care a career of choice, including for young people.

"Getting this right now, means securing the sort of workforce the sector needs into the future with the right mix of skills in those areas of most need," Ms Sparrow added.

Professor John Pollaers OAM, former chair of the Taskforce, will lead the strategy implementation which will be will be working towards attracting and retaining a skilled workforce to meet the growing demand through the creation of new career pathways for aged care workers that recognise and value their skills and experience. 

An Aged Services Industry Reference Committee will reform national training package qualifications and skill sets needed by the aged services industry and examine new approaches for career progression in the sector.

Other initiatives are a new Industry accord on the Remote Aged Care Workforce which has been endorsed, with the goal of improved care outcomes for older people living in remote settings, and an Aged Care Industry Code of Practice will be created.

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