Apr 07, 2022

Aged care reforms “killed” as government and opposition defer legislation

Aged care reforms killed

The decision was made after Senator Rex Patrick successfully amended the bill to include the requirement for a registered nurse to be on site 24 hours a day.

The deferral means the Aged Care and Other Legislation Amendment (Royal Commission Response No. 2) Bill 2021 will not be passed by the current parliament.

An important feature of the bill was the improved funding mechanism for residential aged care funding, the Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC).

But other key features were recommendations from the royal commission, including the new screening requirements for workers, the ability to establish an enforceable sector code of conduct, a scheme to ban aged care workers who do the wrong thing, a serious incident response scheme for home care services, strengthened governance obligations for approved providers, improved information sharing between social care regulators, stronger rules to prevent the misuse of refundable accommodation deposits and bonds, and provisions establishing a new Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority.

Independent MP Rebekha Sharkie tweeted, “The Government quietly killed the bill. And Labor just watched it happen. 

“Because of this act of bastardry, millions of senior Australians will miss out on better aged care, registered nurse 24/7 at aged care homes, transparency to reveal provider spending,” Sharkie added. 

Senator Patrick said, “This Bill was so important for the residents of aged care facilities and their families.

“It is heartbreaking it has been left to languish in the Parliament.

“Rather than work proactively to improve things for our elderly citizens, the Government deliberately kicked the can down the road to be dealt with who knows when.

“I’m concerned many aged care residents are not getting the care they need, and that their care is highly variable depending on where they are located across Australia.”

The current reform process is set to be completed by 2025, but the delay in the legislation could jeopardise that timing.

In February, the Minister for Aged Care Greg Hunt MP boasted the introduction of the AN-ACC will “deliver a funding boost to increase the amount of frontline care to residents” as well as delivering more than $3.9 billion to rural and remote residential aged care services, and specialised homeless and remote Indigenous services.

Aged care accountancy firm StewartBrown’s recent data for the six months to 31 December 2021 revealed that 60% of homes are operating at a loss. Nearly 900 homes made a loss of more than $22 per day.

In the recent budget, the government announced that from 1 October 2022, the average AN-ACC figure will be set at $216.80 per day. When the $10 per day Basic Daily Fee supplement is added in, some providers expected to receive around $225 per day under the new model.

However, Anton Hutchinson, whose family owns Canberra Aged Care, told HelloCare that only the most incapacitated residents or residents in remote locations will receive the full $216.80 per day – it’s not a base rate for all residents.

New details about the funding make “a complete mockery of the rhetoric from the government,” said Hutchinson.

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  1. It is very disappointing to see Senator Patrick’s amendment passed over and deferred to the next parliament. However, it is a great relief that along with all that the Royal Commission recommended, the ninth schedule to the Bill, containing astounding discrimination against vulnerable elders in aged care, was also deferred. That’s the part of the Bill which removed the most fundamental legal rights arising from restrictive practices, from aged care residents. That part of the Bill must never pass.

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