Prime Minister Scott Morrison Welcomes Final Report From The Royal Commission Into Aged Care
Prime Minister Scott Morrison Welcomes Final Report From The Royal Commission Into Aged Care

The bare minimum in aged care is not acceptable: Royal Commission

At times during the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, Commissioner Lynelle Briggs “felt like the Government’s main consideration was what was the minimum commitment it could get away with”, rather than what should be done to deliver high quality and safe care.

“This must change,” she wrote.

“Aged care is a social service, not a commodity that can be outsourced so that it can be bought or sold at the lowest price.”

Commissioner Briggs and her fellow commissioner Tony Pagone on Friday handed their eight-volume, final report to the Governor-general, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday.

Distilling 10,574 submissions and the evidence of 641 witnesses at hearings, the report has made 148 recommendations and called for a fundamental reform of Australia’s aged care system.

Both commissioners have identified “systemic problems” with the sector, including inadequate funding, variable provider governance and behaviour, absence of system leadership and governance, and poor access to health care.

At the heart of the calls for reform is the recommendation from both commissioners that a new aged care act should come into force no later than July 2023 – one which provides a system of aged care based on a universal right to high quality, safe and timely support and care.

Another key recommendation was the integration of long-term support and care for older people.

On the matter of funding, University of Southern Queensland’s Professor Bob Knight said that was the “basic dilemma in quality services in aged care”.

“We have an expectation that the level of quality should be quite high but historically we haven’t been willing to pay for it,” Prof Knight said.

In their report, both commissioners supported consideration of the introduction of a levy on taxable income to finance aged care – however they differed on the levy’s design.

Prof Knight said how the levy would work in reality would ultimately be a product of the parliamentary process.

He said the commission had done a “great job” looking at the “whole scope of aged care”, including home-based care and residential aged care.

The Federal Government has announced its initial response to the Royal Commission – an injection of $452 million – and Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised a further “comprehensive” response would be developed.

Originally published as The bare minimum in aged care is not acceptable: Royal Commission