Wells assured members work was already underway, and the Albanese government was looking to deliver a new Aged Care Act by 1 July, 2023.
That commitment led to further discussion about the group’s desire for older people to be involved in the co-design of aged care.
Wells acknowledged the Royal Commission and Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended aged care recipients and workers be involved in the co-design of services. “There has been an absence of that,” she said, “And we are looking at what options are available to us to remedy that.”
Three members of OPAN’s National Older Persons Reference Group, Gwenda Darling, Val Fell OAM and Danijela Hlis, also sit on the Council of Elders, established by the Australian Government to provide advice about aged care reform and ageing.
Fell raised her concern with the minister that there was a perception amongst the general public that nothing was being done to improve the issues in the aged care system. Minister Wells said she hoped to change that public narrative.
“Every morsel of reform that we get through, we have to be able to point to, to keep faith with Australians that we are doing what we promised and that we are fixing aged care.”
Hlis pointed out that “fixing aged care” involves being able to provide culturally appropriate care where necessary.
Wells recognised this as an area of need, pointing out that the Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, Ged Kearney, is particularly passionate about the provision of inclusive care. She assured members of the group that she would work closely with Assistant Minister Kearney to make progress in this area.
Darling raised the issue of home care saying, “Home care recipients deserve the same services in their own home.”
Wells shared her concern that the image of home care services has taken a battering in recent times but delivered no promise of investment.
“One of the things that’s really stood out to me in the seven weeks I’ve had the job, is how much more work we need to do to get support at home right given how many more people want to use that system,” she said.
She assured the group that aged care was a top election commitment and priority for the Albanese government before reiterating the five commitments Labor took to the election earlier this year:
nurses 24/7 in every facility
raising care minutes up to 215 (with 44 minutes of nursing care at a minimum)
a pay rise for our aged care workers
improving the quality of food for our residents
improving transparency and accountability for how government spending is used by providers to deliver care and service.
OPAN welcomes new members to National Older Persons Reference Group
The meeting also saw OPAN welcome ten new members to the group.
Peter Willcocks is a recipient of aged care services. He has previously worked in operations management. He is a strong advocate for independent living and currently uses over 30 items of assistive technology.
Frank Smith is an 82-year-old retired agricultural scientist with journalism and education degrees. He has worked in academia, publishing and journalism. He currently subedits Have a Go News (a Perth-based lifestyle magazine for older people).
Beverly Baker is a 72-year-old woman who has spent her adult life working in the not-for-profit sector, including with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those with disability and mobility issues, public school students and women as they age. She is interested in advocating for older women on the issues they face.
Helen Walne self-manages her level 3 package. Before retiring, she worked in OH&S and rehabilitation management across the health and retail sectors. She has a particular interest in dementia, palliative/hospice care and healthy lifestyle for older people.
Barry Horwood is a prior carer. He previously worked in executive level positions on AIDS Councils in Australia and in the HIV sector in Papua New Guinea. He is interested in community, advocating for older people and in LGBTQI specific facility development.
Jill Linklater has personal experience in supporting ageing parents and professional experience working in the residential aged care system. She is passionate about the ‘older consumer voice’ and her aim in life is to help change the life experiences of older Australians to allow them to live safely, with dignity and respect.
Kerrie Laurence is a prior carer of both parents. She began working in the community services sector in 1976 and has worked as an Aged Care Quality Assessor with Aged Care Standard and Accreditation Agency. She is keen to contribute to systemic reform of aged care.
Brian Stedman lives in residential care in Tasmania. He has worked as a systems analyst and ran his own business for some years. He is a member of a number of community groups.
Peter Relph is currently on a home care package. He has experience in business, social work and working with people with disability. He wants to make a difference for older people and seeks to ensure that all people have access to the best aged care.
Gwenda Darling is a proud Aboriginal woman descended from the Tebrikuna tribe, born in Gamilaroi Country. She has worked in government departments and NGOs for almost 50 years in areas including child protection, adult mental health, juvenile justice and on Aboriginal Land Councils. She hopes to build a better future for older people in Australia.
OPAN is looking forward to working with our new members to amplify the voices of older people across Australia.