Aged Care Royal Commission Further Update

Friday 06 Nov 2020

The final hearings for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have been held. The hearings focused on the Counsel Assisting’s final submissions and proposed recommendations to the Commissioners. The 124 proposed recommendations released confirm what the union and our members have been calling for over many years – the aged care system requires comprehensive reform to almost every aspect of it. Without making change at every level, the aged care system won’t be able to deliver the high-quality care that older Australians deserve.

Counsel Assisting has recognised that patchwork changes will only exacerbate issues and gaps. In light of that, these substantial documents should be read as a whole. However, below is brief summary of the key workforce recommendations:

  • Mandated staffing by minutes of care across RN, EN and PCWs
  • At least one Allied Health Professional across stipulated roles to be employed/engaged by approved providers
  • PCW registration under AHPRA, with screening, minimum qualifications, grandparenting provisions, ongoing training and CPD, English proficiency
  • Wages to be lifted by raising Award rates of pay
    • Government, employers and employees’ reps – brought together by a reconstituted Aged Care Workforce Industry Council (ACWIC) – to make supported application to vary Award wage rates, including via Work Value and Equal Remuneration matters
  • Improved workforce planning, consultation and strategy, to be overseen first by a dedicated Workforce Division at the Department of Health, before a dedicated Aged Care Commission is established with a workforce focused Commissioner
    • This proposed Commission is part of the major reform recommended to the regulatory environment and is also about limiting direct Ministerial involvement
  • The ACWIC and a new independent pricing authority to work together to address attraction and retention via remuneration
  • The ACWIC to undertake significant occupational reclassification work
  • Funding to be immediately provided for existing workforce to gain qualifications, including paying for any staff shortages that arise as a result
  • Approved provider status (regulation of providers) to be linked to training of staff, including in specialist areas e.g. dementia and palliative care

You can view the full Counsel Assisting’s recommendations here and submission here. There are a few key areas regarding the workforce that are light on or completely missing, such as precarious work, and the HSU National is currently working to make a submission to address these gaps. Submissions on the proposed recommendations are due by 12 November.

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