In recent times, instances of mistreatment have brought attention to the quality of care provided in residential aged care facilities. The need to ensure that older Australians have access to high-quality residential care prompted the Committee to undertake an inquiry into Australian aged care facilities. This inquiry culminated in the recent release of the Report on the Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia.
The inquiry highlighted that the provision of an appropriate number of staff is a critical component of the delivery of quality aged care and the Committee recommended the introduction of mandatory minimum staffing levels.
The Committee, therefore, also supports the passage of the Aged Care Amendment (Staffing Ratio Disclosure) Bill 2018, as it will increase consumers’ access to information on staffing at aged care facilities.
The publication of staffing ratios is the focus of this advisory report. This alone, however, will not provide sufficient protection for older Australians living in aged care facilities. Other critical issues relating to the provision of quality care in aged care facilities are discussed in detail in the Committee’s Aged Care Inquiry Report.
During the inquiry many submitters raised concerns that the publication of staffing ratios without contextual information and other quality measures would not provide consumers with a reliable or useful tool to assess different facilities. The Committee agrees contextual information should be developed by the Department however this should not become a hindrance to more transparency and greater consumer information.
The Committee welcomes the Government’s recent establishment of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. I anticipate the outcomes of the Royal Commission should provide an opportunity to strengthen safeguards and result in an overall enhancement of the quality of care provided to older Australians.
There have been many recent inquiries into the aged care sector and so I would particularly like to thank the organisations and individuals who provided evidence to this inquiry. The continued engagement of so many organisations and individuals is a testament both to the importance of this issue and of the passion and commitment of those who seek to improve Australia’s aged care system.
Finally, I would like to thank my fellow Committee Members, including Ms Rebekha Sharkie MP, whose bill is the subject of this report and who joined the Committee as a Supplementary Member for the course of the inquiry. The Committee is also exceptionally grateful to our Committee staff who bring a high degree of professionalism and dedication to the work of our Committee.
Mr Trent Zimmerman MP