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Home News and media centre News Advocacy is for everyone – improving the lives of older people

Advocacy is for everyone – improving the lives of older people

The Albanese Government’s second, crucial piece of government aged care reform legislation was approved by a Senate committee on Friday, 2 September.

This should ensure a swift passage for the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022, which includes 24/7 registered nurses in residential aged care, increased transparency measures for providers and a cap on home care administration fees.

OPAN strongly supports round-the-clock nursing – including in regional, rural and remote aged care homes where providers have been unable to recruit staff with the requisite skills. An older person’s location shouldn’t determine the hours of nursing care available to them. Any exemptions granted to the 24/7 nursing mandate must be time limited, carefully calibrated and monitored to ensure older people get the right level of nursing care.

Aged care fees and costs

We also know, from what older people have told us, that greater transparency around providers’ finances and performance will be crucial to rebuilding their confidence in the aged care system.

And the ban on exit fees and cap on what the committee labelled ‘exorbitant’ home care administration charges addressed one of the issues most frequently raised with advocates across all nine of our member organisations.

Older people tell us they would now like to see a mechanism developed to ensure aged care service providers do not try to recoup the costs in other ways, such as increasing direct care costs.

Brokerage fees also need to be addressed. Amongst the many examples raised with our advocates and specialist financial advocates is an older person who was charged $800 to process an invoice for an $8000 chair – this is simply unacceptable.

Aged care reforms

The speed with which the government has implemented care reform suggests a strong commitment to improving the lives of older people and those who support them.

But there is a lot more work to be done.

OPAN supports the rescheduling of the rollout of the Support at Home Program to give the sector time to get it right.

It’s a once-in a lifetime opportunity to reform home care. Older people must be involved in the design of the program – since they are the experts. And interim measures are required to stop people from falling through the cracks.

It’s never been more important for older people to have timely access to an advocate to ensure their voice is heard and their rights are upheld.

With support, older people can remain independent in their own home, exercising their right to choice and control.

Dementia Awareness Month

Throughout September, OPAN has observed Dementia Awareness Month. Check out the resources we’ve compiled below to help you (or someone you know) to live well with dementia.

This was originally published in The National Advocate, our monthly e-newsletter packed with the latest aged care advocacy news, events, and resources. Subscribe today.