Northern Beaches Mums Group
Northern Beaches Mums Group

How Aged Care Might Change in Australia After This Year’s Election

The older generations of Australians have built and served this country. They have paid their taxes, raised their families, and worked diligently throughout their lives.

This is why they would rightly have expected that the nation would support them in their senior years. 

Unfortunately, though, the previous governments have neglected the aged care system and senior Australians for many years now.

However, the results of this year’s election might usher in a period of much-needed change in aged care.

Why does the aged care system need urgent reforms?

It’s high time to make sure that older Australians get the care they deserve.

Even before the recent Coronavirus pandemic, the aged care sector was severely underfunded and experienced a workforce shortage.

The final report by the Aged Care Royal Commission last year made it clear that the aged care system failed to meet the needs of Australians in their frailer years. And it also told us how the government can fix it.

However, more than a year later, there’s still a lot of unfinished business. The sector is overstretched and senior citizens are paying the price. 

On top of that, the pandemic has exacerbated the issues in the aged care sector, which was already facing a shortage of staff and funds. 

Learn more: Here’s what a career in aged care in Melbourne looks like. 

Workforce pressures have been rising for several years now. And now, some older Australians are even being turned away from services due to a shortage of staff.

According to some reports, more than 50,000 older Australians have died while waiting for approved home care since 2017 — an unacceptably high number and a national disgrace.

Major steps need to be taken to tackle the aged care crisis. And this year’s election is just the kind of thing that could bring about some much-required change.

How will the elections help bring about reforms in aged care?

If the people want to improve aged care in Australia, then they need to start by making their voices heard by politicians and changing the government. 

And the nation did exactly that by bringing the Labor party into power in this year’s election.

While the Coalition had pledged to increase funding to the sector after the findings of the Royal Commission, the Labor party promised much more. It pledged $2.5 billion over 4 years to bring improvements to aged care after they’re in power.

The Labor party also vows to take other practical measures to ensure better-aged care for older Australians such as:

  • On-site registered nurses 24/7. Labor pledges that under their government, every aged care establishment will be required to have a registered nurse on site 24 hours a day, each day of the week by July 2023. This should help prevent countless stressful, costly, and unnecessary hospital ER trips for issues a qualified nurse could resolve on-site.
  • More nurses and care minutes. Labor also aims to boost the standards of aged care by making sure there are a greater number of carers who have more time to care. 

The party mandates that each Australian living in an aged care facility receives at least 215 minutes of care each day, as advised by the Royal Commission. And this is not just for necessary medical treatment, but also for basic everyday tasks like getting dressed, eating a meal, or taking a shower.

  • Increased wages for aged care workers. They also promise an actual pay raise for aged care workers. Labor pledges to fund whatever wage raise that the Fair Work Commission decides on. Because if you want better standards of aged care, the workforce needs to be supported with higher wages. 
  • Improved accountability. Labor also pledges to ensure all aged care facilities provide detailed reports on exactly what they’re spending their money on. Additionally, the party also plans to give the Aged Care Safety Commissioner newer and greater powers to make sure there is better integrity and accountability.
  • Better food for older Australians. Lastly, the Labor party promises to improve the quality of food available to residents of aged care facilities. They plan to work with the aged care sector to design and enforce mandatory nutrition standards for old age homes to make sure each resident gets better food.

Where will the carers come from if these reforms are made?

An important question on everyone’s mind now is where will the Labor government find the staff needed to make its care and nursing minute promises a reality after the election? 

Well, according to experts, although finding workers for these new commitments would be difficult, it won’t be impossible. 

The increased wages should help recruit new staff and workers who had left the sector before. 

Plus, the party’s plans to introduce fee-free training programs and make the sector a much more attractive career option will also help attract new workers. 

Lastly, the party also plans on recruiting overseas workers as a “stopgap” solution to fulfil their aged care promises.