Submission to the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care on the Aged Care Royal Commission Terms of Reference

COTA Australia welcomes the opportunity to provide suggestions for the development of the Letters Patent (Terms of Reference) for the announced Royal Commission into the Quality and Safety in Aged Care.

COTA welcomes the Government’s commitment to a Royal Commission and the opportunity it presents to provide a voice to the thousands of individuals and families who have experienced historical and current issues during the delivery of aged care services. COTA also thanks the Government for its commitment to continue implementing reforms that will improve the aged care experience of older Australians while the Royal Commission is in process.

Reforms such as a single complaints and standards regulator in the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, the Charter of Aged Care Rights and the new Single Aged Care Quality Framework and new Aged Care Standards will collectively provide the single greatest strengthening of consumer-focused reform to the aged care system in the past two decades. In addition, there are a range of other reforms that we would urge the Government to continue implementing while the Royal Commission investigates and recommends further, longer term, reforms.

While recognising quality and safety has largely focused on the issues pertaining to quality of care, many of the issues raised with us by consumers and recently featured on the Four Corners program also discuss the quality of life afforded to older Australians supported by aged care services. It is vital therefore to ensure the terms of reference include quality of life outcomes and not simply quality of care provided.

COTAs around the country encouraged older Australians and their families and friends to make their views known directly to the Consultation to develop the detailed Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety which was opened between 17 September and 25 September. COTA Australia also received views of numerous consumers directly and via state and territory COTAs including the collective input of a number of COTA Policy Councils.

In preparing this submission COTA spoke with a number of consumer stakeholder groups and through the National Aged Care Alliance received the individual views of a number of sector stakeholders. Finally, as COTA concluded the drafting of this submission we observed the “roundtable” consultation between a number of consumers and their representatives and Minister Wyatt to discuss their views as a final stage of the Government’s consultation on the reform.

COTA recognises from these representations that there is a wide range of opinions on the breadth and scope of the terms of reference. In addition there are a number of specific areas of concern faced by individuals and specific groups of older Australians which they want included in the terms of reference. COTA encourages the Government to approach the letters patent development in a way that appropriately balances the need to focus on key holistic areas of concern, while recognising that the Commission should look at those areas of concern through the lenses of various groups and issues.