Minister Wells sharing morning tea with a resident at Eldercare Seaford, for the launch of the first Maggie Beer Foundation online training modules.

This article originally appeared on Aged Care Today Spring 2023 edition.

An ambitious journey in partnership with providers

Our ambition for aged care is now becoming reality following reform implementation throughout 2023. We have more than 100 reform projects currently active. However, we are not on this ambitious journey alone. I commend aged care providers and workers who have taken up this challenge, and are working with the government to lift the standard of care.

Importantly we are acting on the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We have funded a 15 per cent pay rise for aged care workers to help attract and retain staff, addressing critical workforce shortages.  We introduced the requirement for a registered nurse to be on-site at all aged care homes from 1 July this year.  

The results are:

■ on average, there is a registered nurse onsite in aged care homes 98 per cent of the time

■ on average, there is a registered nurse onsite in aged care homes for 23.5 hours a day

■ 86 per cent of facilities now have a nurse on site 24/7

■ the majority of the remaining homes are very close to 24/7 coverage.

We are also working to make sure residents get better food through a partnership with the Maggie Beer Foundation,instituting a dedicated food and nutrition hotline while we have also introduced six additional Quality Indicators.

Star Ratings, which we launched in December last year and updated quarterly since, show us the sector’s efforts are working.  We’ve seen continuous improvement so that 97 per cent of aged care homes are now meeting or exceeding the level of care expected.  The Serious Incident Response Scheme has been extended to home and community care services. We’ve ensured accountability at all levels of an organisation, not only with those involved in direct care.

Looking forward, the Aged Care Taskforce is reviewing funding arrangements for aged care. The Government is committed to an aged care system that is fair and equitable both for older people who contribute to the cost of their care and for working people who support aged care through their taxes. 

The Albanese Government is the majority funder of aged care, paying an estimated $30 billion in 2022-23. This is expected to increase to $36 billion in 2023-24.  The Royal Commission’s great unanswered question remains – how to make aged care equitable and sustainable into the future.

The Aged Care Taskforce is assessing this question and will provide the Government with options for consideration when it completes its final report in December 2023. Work is also progressing on the new Aged Care Act, which will put older people front and centre.

I look forward to learning more about the ideas submitted through the consultation process, which closed last week. We are working our way through the many responses.  We have an ambitious reform agenda and together we will improve care for older people. 

The Hon Anika Wells MP
Minister for Aged Care