Aged care advocates call for older Australians to be consulted over election campaign promises

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) has today called on all political leaders to deliver a new, rights-based Aged Care Act by 1 July 2023.


OPAN CEO Craig Gear said the current aged care system fails to meet peoples’ basic human rights.


“The treatment we’ve seen of older Australians, particularly in residential aged care homes, is a national disgrace,” Mr Gear said.


“The reform journey has commenced, but action must ramp up to give older Australians the dignity and respect they deserve in their later years.


“Now the election has been called, we will hear many promises from both sides of government.


“But only direct engagement with older Australians in the design of their services will change the experience of their everyday care.”


An incoming government that puts the rights, preferences and needs of older people at the core of the aged care system will rebalance the power dynamic between older people and aged care providers.”


Mr Gear outlined five commitments OPAN is seeking from all politicians.


Deliver a new, rights-based Aged Care Act that respects, protects and enforces the rights of older people by 1 July 2023, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.


“The current Aged Care Act is focused on the operation and funding of aged care services and is largely divorced from the human experience of older people,” Mr Gear said.


“We need a rights-based aged care act that has mechanisms to monitor, respond and ensure the rights of older people are upheld, with consequences for aged care providers that breach these conditions.”


Legislatively adopt the revised industry Code for Visiting Aged Care Homes.


“Older people in residential aged care faced heavy-handed restrictions during the pandemic, isolating them from their family and loved ones,” Mr Gear said.


“We’d like a commitment from the incoming Government to legislatively adopt the revised visiting code, including mandating its Essential Visitor provisions, which provides critically important provisions for social contact with family.”


Deliver ongoing investment in care at home.


“We are calling on all parties to commit to investing in home care services that are accessible, equitable and responsive to the needs of older Australians.


“Older people are increasingly expressing a preference to remain living independently in their own home for as long as possible – but the current home care system cannot support this preference.


“We can start by clearing the more than 68,000 people currently on the Home Care Package waitlist, and making sure no one needs to wait more than one month for the care and support that they need to stay at home and independent”


Implement all recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.


“While the Government has taken several important steps in response to the Royal Commission recommendations, there is more work to be done.


“We are seeking a commitment from all political parties to develop a clear, time bound plan to implement all the recommendations proposed by the Royal Commission.”


Committing to ongoing aged care advocacy.


“Advocacy plays a crucial role in supporting older people to understand and exercise their rights, particularly during a period of widespread reform.


“That’s why we’re calling for a sustainably funded and well-resourced National Aged Care Advocacy Program (NACAP) to ensure the demand for aged care advocacy can be met into the future.”


12 April 2022.