Aged care reform doesn't go far enough

20 APRIL 2012

A CSU researcher and advocate for quality aged care has welcomed the Federal Government overhaul of the sector but says more needs to be done to improve the standard of care.

A Charles Sturt University (CSU) researcher and advocate for quality aged care has welcomed the Federal Government overhaul of the sector but says more needs to be done to improve the standard of care.
 
Dr Maree BernothDr Maree Bernoth from CSU’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health has more than two decades of experience in the aged care sector.
 
The Federal Government today announced a $3.7 billion, 10-year plan to reform aged care including measures to help older Australians stay in their own home and changes to the way people pay for residential care.
 
Dr Bernoth said the plan is too focused on the fiscal aspect of aged care and does not provide enough detail about how the needs of older Australians in regional Australia will be met.
 
“Fiscal management is important and enables the provision of care but of greater significance to me is that the older person receives the quality of care that they need. The announcement does not give this enough emphasis.
 
“The plan mentions ‘stricter standards’ but there remains an issue with the way the standards are monitored. Will the monitors now actually look at the care being given or will they continue to focus on paper work and folders?” she said.
 
Dr Bernoth is pleased that more financial resources will be available for the early diagnosis of dementia and for the care of sufferers.
 
“The majority of the participants in our various research projects have said how confusing it is to try and access aged care services. The single gateway outlined in this reform will make the system less complex and more accessible to those seeking assistance and services,” she said.
 
Dr Bernoth has also welcomed more focus on community services to assist older people to remain at home.
 
“Our reseerch has demonstrated the wish of older people living in rural areas to stay in their communities and the trauma they experience when they are forced to leave,” she said. “While this announcement states that residential aged care in rural and remote Australia will be viable, the reality is that in many rural communities there is no residential aged care. This is something the Federal Government needs to address.”
 
Dr Bernoth is disappointed the plan has not focused on the quality of the education received by aged care workers, the ratios of aged care workers to the care needs of residents, clinical support for care workers and licensing aged care workers.
 
She said the disparity in pay between Registered Nurses working in the aged care sector and those in acute care also needs to be addressed to attract and retain skilled staff.

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