MEDIA RELEASE: COTA welcomes landmark protections for older Australians

Australia’s peak consumer body for older Australians today welcomed Federal Government announcements this morning to strengthen protections for 1.1 million older Australians receiving aged care services.

The Government announced the introduction of legislation today to establish the “one-stop cop” in aged care to be known as the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and $106 million to support better facilities, care and standards in aged care. It also announced the release of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy.

On Monday night Parliament passed the Quality Standards Framework legislation enabling the enactment of the first fully revised Aged Care Quality Standards in 20 years, featuring a substantially increased focus on ‘consumer outcomes’ and consumer engagement.

COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, welcomed these measures designed to bolster protection and increase transparency and accountability for quality and safety in Australia’s aged care system – from community services to home care packages to nursing homes.

“Jointly the new Standards and the Quality and Safety Commission represent a landmark advance for consumer rights in aged care. We still need more to be done but these are essential steps forward to driving out poor quality providers of support and care for older Australians,” Mr Yates said.

“The new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will for the first time introduce a ‘one-stop cop’ in aged care – bringing together regulation, compliance functions and complaints handling in a single independent body; and if implemented correctly will give consumers a single point of contact to raise concerns about any aspect of the quality of care being provided.

“It’s designed to prevent repeats of tragic failures such as at South Australia’s Oakden facility. The new communication from providers to the commission will identifying poor quality earlier and raise the alarm about dangerous care practices.

“The Government is funding providers to deliver new training as part of the new Standards and a key responsibility of the Commission will be to work with consumers to develop best practice in how aged care providers engage with consumers and their families. COTA stands ready to work with the sector in strengthening the role of consumers in co-designing best quality services and how its delivery is monitored.”

Mr Yates said the Commission’s work will also be bolstered by the Single Aged Care Quality Framework. Monday’s passage of the Framework legislation will enable the sector to prepare for the new standards, developed in consultation with consumers and others, from 1 July 2019.

“These standards are much more consumer focused and make the governing bodies of aged care providers more accountable for safety and quality, with providers having to prove their services are safe, effective and centred around consumer outcomes and choice, with genuine consumer engagement” Mr Yates said.

“Consumer control and greater transparency will create more genuine choice, and for consumers is fundamental to fixing our aged care sector and delivering the highest quality care.”

Mr Yates said the Commission and the Framework were important milestones, but the Government still needs to respond to all the recommendations contained within the landmark Tune Report released one year ago.

COTA will outline its 5-point plan for additional reforms of Australia’s aged care sector in Canberra next Tuesday, 18 September.

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Jenny Stokes 0478 504 280

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.