Today, global accounting and advisory firm, Grant Thornton released its ‘Perspectives on the Future of Ageing and Age Services in Australia’ report, having formally submitted the report to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety yesterday.
The report is the result of independently facilitated workshops with 121 CEOs and executives from 112 age services providers from a national cross-section of for-profit, not-for-profit and government providers.
Led by Grant Thornton in partnership with Leading Age Services Australia, this is the first time a cross-section of the sector has come together on this scale to discuss many of the “wicked problems” being faced by the sector now and into the future.
Providers consistently expressed concern over their ability to support the increasing number of people requiring age services, as well as highlighting opportunities to improve the connections between the entire healthcare system to ensure a continuum of quality and timely care.
“The support we have received from providers for this process has been overwhelmingly positive. It was clear from all workshop attendees that service providers will not be passive participants in the future direction of the industry,” Darrell Price, National Head of Health & Aged Care, Grant Thornton Australia, said.
The top six messages heard from providers throughout the workshops were:
- Consumers of care services and their families have the right to choice and control over the services they need and want and who delivers them. They have the right to high quality and safe services from every provider and worker.
- Workers need to be respected for the work they do in caring for the elderly. They are highly skilled and will adapt to a more consumer-centric model that provides pathways for them to learn and grow within the industry.
- Providers have a significant role and commitment to ensure the sector delivers the best care possible to the people they support, and will not be passive in advocating for a system that delivers it.
- Government needs to recognise its role and make an undertaking for systemic reform rather than tinkering around the edges. This will come with increased risk and will require courage, willingness and commitment to change.
- Our community needs to better understand the life changes that come with ageing and how services support people through those changes. Our community needs to better understand and accept death and dying as one of those transitions.
- For the sector to be effective in the future, sustainability of all aspects of the sector will need to be given greater consideration, including a much closer look at the relationship between the provision of accommodation (facilities) and care (services). This may in fact be an important “first step” in stabilising the sector in the near term.
The sector is seeking a strong commitment by government to explore structural systems reform to improve the sector, and the public expression of the willingness to execute on those reforms, including:
- The appointment of a Minister whose sole responsibility is ageing and age services reform and who resides in the Cabinet will demonstrate that the Government of the day is serious about the ageing population and the impacts on social services, health services and infrastructure, age services, the budget and the economy.
- Radical redesign of the system based on the consumer experience and not limited by structural issues, such as departmental boundaries, Government jurisdictions, and sources of funds.
- Consultation with service providers, in ageing, hospitals, primary care, Primary Health Networks (PHNs), education, taxation, superannuation and health insurance to establish a “whole of system” perspective on reform.
- Immediate consideration of the viability of the sector and what is required to ameliorate current provider performance concerns including the relationship between accommodation (facilities) and care (services), and how greater choice can be achieved.
- Immediate consideration of processes required to improve the relationship between government and providers that is characterised by engagement, trust and respect rather than being punitive and transactional.
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), as a key partner across all the workshops, has reflected upon the perspectives shared by industry leaders and has applied a policy lens to these challenges in their ‘Key insights and reflections on the Future of Ageing and Age Services Workshops’ report.
Further work is required to engage with consumers and other key stakeholders to explore the ideas presented further. It is not the final word on these matters, but it is an important contribution that should not be ignored.
Acknowledging there isn’t a quick fix to the many challenges being faced by the aged care system, next steps include further research and consultation with aged care providers so that clear agreement is achieved to develop a schema that describes the sector in the future. Part of this process will be to also identify the key systems and structural changes that are required to transform the sector to achieve that vision.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said participants overwhelmingly agreed that the goal of age services is to help people to age well, and to achieve this changes in community attitudes towards ageing and older people is crucial.
“A national conversation on what it means to age in 21st century Australia is needed.
“Through this national conversation, we can then engage the Australian community to discuss and confront the key issues of ageing and aged care and reach agreement on how Australia can best enable and support the growing numbers of older Australians to age well,” Sean Rooney, CEO, Leading Age Services Australia
“What has been made very clear throughout the process of creating this report is that ageing well and aged care services cannot be viewed in isolation, and must become more embedded in the fabric of our society. We look forward to continuing this discussion,” Darrell Price, National Head of Health & Aged Care, Grant Thornton Australia, said.
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About the report:
The ‘Perspectives on the Future of Ageing and Age Services in Australia’ report synthesises conversations with CEOs and executives from 112 age services organisations. These conversations took place during workshops independently facilitated by Grant Thornton and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) on the future of ageing and age services in Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney in the first two weeks of August 2019. The aim of these workshops was to discuss key issues facing the age services sector that will contribute to understanding how a better aged care sector can be designed and delivered in the future. It is important to note that this report provides a thematic summary of the views of provider CEOs expressed during a dialogue with their peers.