Aged Care

Aged Care Taskforce to shape the future of the sector

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In a significant move to address the challenges and reshape the aged care sector, Aged Care Minister Anika Wells is leading a taskforce composed of experts from various fields.

This taskforce aims to elevate standards, improve funding models and prioritise the rights of individuals within the system. The group will provide recommendations to the federal government, aiming to establish a more human-centred and flexible healthcare experience for older Australians.

Objective and Task Force Composition

The primary objective of the taskforce is to tackle the unanswered question of the royal commission into aged care by identifying and addressing the barriers that hinder a more human-centred and flexible healthcare experience. Taskforce members include representatives from economic, finance, public policy, First Nations, consumer advocacy and youth perspectives, ensuring a diverse range of viewpoints. Their collective expertise will provide valuable insights and recommendations for sector reform, aiming to create a more equitable and sustainable aged care system.

At least 15 people were named in the Aged Care Taskforce, with Wells leading. The Weekly Source listed them as follows:

  1. Nigel Ray PSM (Deputy Chair): the former World Bank Executive Director, represented Australia as an Executive Director at the International Monetary Fund. Had a distinguished career at the Commonwealth Treasury.
  2. Rosemary Huxtable PSM: a retired senior Australian public servant. She was the Secretary of the Department of Finance from December 2016 to August 2022.
  3. Professor Tom Calma AO: Chancellor of Canberra University. An Aboriginal Australian human rights and social justice campaigner, and 2023 senior Australian of the Year.
  4. Pat Sparrow: COTA Australia CEO, and ex CEO of former aged care peak body Aged and Community Services Australia.
  5. Margaret Walsh OAM: National Deputy President, Association Of Independent Retirees, and CEO of Valued Independent People.
  6. Tom Symondson: Chief Executive of aged care peak body, Aged and Community Care Providers Association.
  7. John Watkins AM: Catholic Health Australia Chair, former CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia and former NSW Deputy Premier.
  8. Mary Patetsos AM: Chairperson of Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia from 2017-2022, and member of the National Aged Care Advisory Council.
  9. Mike Baird AO: HammondCare CEO and former NSW Premier from 2014-2017.
  10. Grant Corderoy: Senior Partner at aged care accountants StewartBrown. Initiated the StewartBrown Aged Care Financial Performance Benchmark Service in 1995 which has grown to be the dominant benchmarking service for the sector.
  11. Professor John McCallum: retired in January after five years’ service as CEO of National Seniors Australia. Presented eight submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
  12. Janine Walker AM: a human resources expert with a background in health, academia and broadcasting. An Adjunct Professor in the Griffith Business School.
  13. Thomas Walker: Lead Economist at Think Forward, and a researcher and advocate for intergenerational fairness in Australia’s policymaking, and;
  14. Union representation.

One significant challenge identified is the need to make future aged care services equitable and sustainable. The taskforce recognises the importance of co-design, support at home, and policy settings that facilitate innovative care models. By emphasising the government’s investment in the care older Australians desire, the taskforce aims to improve the quality and accessibility of aged care services.

Expected Reports and Outcomes

An interim report will be delivered to the government in October, followed by a final report by the end of December. This will outline the recommended next steps for aged care reforms based on the task force’s findings and insights.

While the sector has been grappling with a crisis, the government has already taken steps to address some issues, such as funding pay rises for aged care workers and introducing laws to amend subsidy funding models, reporting requirements and transparency.

Furthermore, from July 1, aged care facilities will be required to provide around-the-clock nursing in line with the royal commission’s recommendations. Concerns were raised about providers not meeting nursing requirements, but Wells reassured that her department will assist those who may fall short.

“The boat doesn’t leave the harbour on July 1 and everybody left on the pontoon is done for – I’ll keep trying on July 2 and every day after that until we get it done,” she said. “This has always been a complex and slow-moving area of public policy. We are bringing aged care back from the brink and it’s about damn time.”

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