Seniors law gets overdue update

From next July, caregivers for elderly Australians will have to meet stricter guidelines after the Federal Government passed groundbreaking draft legislation this week.

Yesterday, the Government also announced it would provide $16 million to launch an Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Meanwhile, the introduction of the new bill is the first comprehensive overhaul of home-care and aged-care standards in two decades.

The revision will make members of providers’ governing bodies legally responsible for the wellbeing of care customers.

Among measures being mandated is the reduction of restraints for patients with dementia.

Peak organisation Leading Age Services Association (LASA) welcomed the new legislation and establishment of a commission.

LASA chief executive Sean Rooney says the standards were a vital component of the reform agenda to drive improvements in the quality of care.

The Government will provide $50 million to the nation’s 2700 care providers to help them comply with the new guidelines over the next nine months.

Improvements have already been made to the information available on home-care packages on the My Aged Care website to help senior Australians.

An enhanced service finder now enables providers to advertise details of their costs and policies on religion, language, special needs and specialised services.

A ‘non-compliance service finder’ will allow consumers to search for any action taken against providers found to be offering substandard care.

Also updated is data on residential aged care homes that includes consumer experience reports and accreditation status.

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt said passage of the Single Aged Care Quality Framework legislation through the Parliament would intensify quality compliance across residential, home and remote care, in the first upgrade of aged care standards in 20 years.

“These new, single-quality standards have a single focus – to protect the rights of senior Australians,” Mr Wyatt said.

“Under the draft new regulations, aged care providers’ governing bodies and boards will be legally accountable for safety and quality.

“The focus will be on client care, with providers having to prove their care and services are safe, effective and customer-centred … the new standards are about ensuring there are no exceptions (to delivering exceptional care).

“The standards will protect people by placing them at the centre of care in a competitive, market-based system where consumers drive quality and red tape is reduced for residents, families and providers.”

For more information on the new guidelines, visit the Department of Health’s website.

In what way do you think care packages can be improved? Do you imagine you will one day enter an aged care facility? Have you heard of any nursing home horror stories?

Written by Olga Galacho

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