Building An Australian Aged Care System: Improving Consumer Focus and Protection in Aged Care
The Australian Government will invest $25 million to improve consumer focus and strengthen protections for residents of aged care as part of its improvements to aged care services to better support older Australians.
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Prime Minister 12 April 2010
Minister for Health
Minister for Ageing
The Rudd Government will invest $25 million to improve consumer focus and strengthen protections for residents of aged care as part of its improvements to aged care services to better support older Australians.
Recipients of aged care services are amongst the most frail and vulnerable people in our society.
These reforms mean that allegation of poor quality care or abuse will be investigated and acted upon more quickly, and protections for residents’ life savings held in the form of accommodation bonds will be strengthened.
An enhanced complaints scheme
The Government will better equip the Aged Care Complaint Investigation Scheme in 2010-11 to improve complaint handling and provide access to mediation and conciliation services.
This builds on steps that the Rudd Government has taken to improve the complaints scheme and protections for residents including strengthening police check requirements, introducing reporting requirements for missing residents and investing in staff training to improve quality of care.
Consumers of aged care services and their families expect high quality care that meets the needs of older Australians in care, and the community expects a robust regulatory system that includes an effective complaints mechanism to act quickly to when poor care or abuse occurs:
- An independent review of the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme found that the Scheme needed to be strengthened
- Consumers and providers want better opportunities to state their case and provide supporting evidence, clearer feedback and clearer advice on the outcomes of investigations and a broader scope of options for resolving complaints.
The Government will provide additional resources to the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme to reduce case loads in the Scheme to improve the timeliness and thoroughness of investigations.
It will continue to work with the aged care sector, consumers and key stakeholders, including the Ageing Consultative Committee to develop and implement other improvements to the Scheme including broadening the range of options for the resolution of complaints through mediation and conciliation.
The Government has released the independent review of the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme and copies of the report are available at the Department of Health and Ageing website (www.health.gov.au).
Better protection for aged care residents’ life savings
The Government will invest $22 million over the next four years to better safeguard the more than $9 billion of residents’ life savings held in aged care accommodation bonds.
While the overwhelming majority of aged care providers do the right thing there are currently no significant penalties or other accountability mechanisms for the misuse of bond funds.
The reforms will increase the accountability of aged care providers for the way they use the life savings of their residents.
The Government will legislate to strengthen the current prudential arrangements to:
- clearly articulate the permitted uses of bonds;
- improve reporting requirements;
- introduce criminal penalties for misuse of bond funds; and
- put in place a prudential regime consistent with proposed legislative changes, to apply to aged care providers who hold accommodation bonds.
The Government will consult with consumers and the industry and will work with relevant bodies to develop an appropriate risk based prudential regime, with a view to putting new arrangements in place from 1 July 2011.
These measures build on the Government’s existing investments in aged care which have resulted in a nearly 20 per cent increase in funding and the addition of more than 10,000 aged care places.
In building the National Health and Hospitals Network, the Government is determined to get the hospital and aged care systems working together to ensure better health and better care for older Australians.
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