It’s unlikely that there will be a new Aged Care Act ahead of the two-year deadline set by the royal commission, aged care services minister Richard Colbeck has indicated.
In a keynote address to CEDA last Friday, Senator Colbeck said some of the royal commission’s recommendations will take time, including calls for brand new aged care legislation.
The final report of the royal commission makes 148 recommendations, including replacing the existing aged Aged Care Act with a new one by July 2023.
Senator Colbeck said scoping, drafting and legislating a new Act will take “a period of time”.
“It’s probably a couple of years that will be required for a new Act,” he said.
“Setting up a completely new structure will take time and that will obviously impact on the speed and capacity for government and the system to react.”
However, he said the industry and the community would see continuous improvements along the way, with the government to provide a full dollar response in the federal budget.
Home care to feel immediate change
Home care in particular will see more immediate results, the minister said.
“The budget will address things like access to home care services and pricing and transparency around home care services, and we’d like to see the effects of that happen quite quickly because the sector is growing rapidly,” Senator Colbeck said.
He also said the government will decide by the end of May which way it will go in terms of the differing views of the royal commissioners.
While commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs both agreed the system is in need of sweeping reform, they differed on issues around mechanisms for governance and regulation.
Most notably, Commissioner Pagone recommended the establishment of an Aged Care commission by 2023 to administer the aged care program, while Commissioner Briggs advocated bringing aged care under the health department and renaming it the Department of Health and Aged Care.
“You’ll have that answer very quickly,” Senator Colbeck said of which way the government will go.
“We’ll respond to the royal commission’s recommendations by the end of May so … so we’ll know very quickly what path we’re going to go down with respect to those issues. We want to get on with this.”
Need to utilise technology
Meanwhile, Senator Colbeck said the aged care sector must make more use of technology, and should be required to switch to digital reporting.
“About 40 per cent of providers report quality indicators manually,” he said.
“We ought to require, within a period of time, that all providers are reporting their quality and financial indicators automatically.”
The uptake of technology in the home care sector also needed to step up.
“When you go into care at home there are all sorts of ways that I think we can utilise technology to assist people,” Senator Colbeck said.
“Whether that be monitoring people in the home in the way that they’re comfortable with, or supporting them in living at home.
“Technology is a real facilitator in the delivery of care services and providing efficiency to providers in the way they operate.
“There’s a lot of gains for all of us in the utilisation of technology.”
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