Sometime today, the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, will receive the long awaited report into improving the quality of aged care.

Initiated after the Oakden scandal, which saw the closing down of a South Australian dementia facility after where there was mistreatment and abuse of their elderly dementia patients, a panel was called created to conduct an independent review on the current quality regulatory processes that are in place for government funded aged care.

Part of the review will also include an examination of the agencies involved in regulating the quality of care in residential aged care. This will include the Department of Health, Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.

Independent reviewer Kate Carnell has said that the report outlined a set of proposals that “if implemented in full” would make a “significant difference” to the aged care sector.

“We’ve looked at the things that are working well and things that aren’t. What went wrong at Oakden and how to make changes to the current system to stop that happening again,” she said.

As the panel were focussed on ensuring the changes were achievable and realistic, the final report does not contain a high number of recommendations, “really, really long reports are usually just doorstops,” she said.

“The report is certainly substantial but it’s not a doorstop and (the recommendations) are absolutely doable.”

Minister Ken Wyatt has said that he’ll “consider them all” when asked by SkyNews about the report’s recommendations, “the bottom line is the safety and wellbeing of senior Australians in any context, but particularly within residential aged care”  

“I want to ensure the reports are dealt with in a way that I will take to cabinet about reforms and changes we need to put in place that are absolutely paramount to the safety and way of life of any senior Australian living in aged care.

‘I won’t shirk away from the hard issues’, he said.

‘I want to make sure that the journey that is taken is one that respects an individual, residential care becomes their new home in which they can expect to be independent, looked after and given due attention.’

Minister Wyatt was asked about the aged care sector’s lack of minimum training requirements, requirements to have a nurse on hand at all times and staff ratios.

In terms of staff training, Minister Wyatt said that he has developed a “task force that will look at the workforce needs of the aged care sector – and that will cover a range of issues within a set terms of reference.”  

The taskforce will be looking at the future needs of the aged care sector over the next 20 years, and “will cover aspects of the way in which training is done, the type of people we want working in aged care, and also creating an environment where staff who work there are providing for needs”.

It was reported, in a recent national audit, that almost 600 aged-care homes across Australia failed to meet basic patient care standards in the past five years.

Should the sector and its regulatory bodies see changes according to today’s report, then hopefully that number will decrease over time and the quality of care offered will be improved.

“If I don’t get this right and the government don’t get this right, then we’ve got future generations heading [into aged care]…residential care becomes their new home in which they can expect to be independent, looked after and given due attention for the conditions they experience if they have poor health,” says Minister Wyatt.

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