Dec 21, 2022

2022 year in review: Aged care’s highs and lows

21_12_2022 review
Review the year 2022 with the HelloCare team. [Source: Unsplash]

This year has been a whirlwind of a trip for aged care workers, residents, clients and families.

There have been major reforms, uplifting tales and stories of further issues to fix in the aged care sector, but HelloCare has loved every minute of bringing this year’s coverage to our readers.

Take a trip down memory lane with us as we review the biggest stories of 2022, the year that was.

Election and Budget

The year began with high expectations of aged care reform following the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Final Report and many workers, providers, residents and families were quickly disappointed by the Liberal Government’s actions – or lack of action.

In March, HelloCare published six key takeaways from the 2022 Budget and what it meant for aged care, which was not as much important change as some predicted. 

The Budget was dropped days after then Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck announced funding specifically for allied health in aged care was to be removed, as he said providers were “wasting money” on allied health treatments.

By May, the Liberals were replaced by the Labor Party and the new Labor Government’s Budget was announced in October – heralding many historic changes for the aged care sector.

Other changes to laws and reforms were also announced to further improve the sector, including the 24/7 nursing mandate, a new funding model for residential aged care, the introduction of star ratings, a new Code of Conduct for staff and providers, care minutes targets and home care fee caps.

Pay and recognition

In February, just before the Federal Election, aged care workers were made eligible to receive an $800 bonus payment to recognise their hard work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, although many did not receive their payment because providers had to apply on behalf of employees.

Aged care workers continued to speak out about their low pay rates, saying they “get paid more as a cleaner”.

Following on from that, the New South Wales Government acknowledged healthcare workers at the frontline for the pandemic with a $3,000 payment – but aged care workers missed out.

In November, the Fair Work Commission finally decided to give aged care workers a 15% pay increase, however, it has since been revealed this will take 18 months to come into play.

Emotions ran high in 2022

The tragic love story of an older man who took his wife out of an aged care home and tried to run away with her, but was found and returned home, only to die in a car accident three days after she passed away, captured our hearts.

The viral story of a woman who found her grandmother’s 1950s honeymoon outfits in a suitcase captured our imaginations.

The funny anecdote of an 81-year-old woman who accidentally grew a huge cannabis plant in her front yard from some spilled bird seed made us laugh.

Singer Michael Buble made us swoon when he generously gifted his grandfather’s house to his dedicated in-home carer.

And later, the video of a 29-year-old woman sleeping over at her grandfather’s house because he missed her inspired us to connect with our older relatives.

COVID-19

In 2022, Australia moved from a serious new Omicron variant in January sparking a Government decision to give pensioners free Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) even though pharmacists didn’t have enough stock to give out, right through to a removal of isolation periods for people with COVID-19 in October.

But aged care continues to be heavily impacted by the pandemic and has seen a raft of different measures used in an attempt to protect workers and residents over the year.

This included using the Australian Defence Force and surge workforces, Pandemic Leave Payments that supported casual workers to stay away from work if they had COVID-19, funding for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and tests, and a criticised COVID management plan created by the Government.

Your favourites

The most popular story of the year for HelloCare readers was actually posted in 2021, but more than a year on ‘Can cats actually predict death?’ is still a crowd pleaser.

There were also many readers searching for answers to their burning questions, from what questions to expect in an aged care job interview to understanding the six types of nurses in Australia.

What was your favourite story of the year? Tell us in the comments below.

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