Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on the Inquiry into the provisions of the Aged Care Amendment (Implementing Care Reform) Bill 2022

COTA Australia welcomes the commitments made in this primary legislation and supports its intentions.

Most of the detail of this legislation will be in the subordinate legislation. COTA Australia will play an active role in working with all MPs and Senators to review the subordinate legislation when it is tabled.

The legislation contains three broad measures:

  1. Ensure that a registered nurse is on site and on duty (that is, 24 hours every day, 7 days a week) at each residential facility operated by them.
  2. Enable the Government to cap home care charges that providers may charge older people and remove home care exit the capacity of providers to charge exit amounts
  3. Introduce a mandatory requirement for the Department of Health and Aged Care to publish information about aged care providers including information on finances, levels of care time, details of key personnel and staffing.

COTA Australia supports the measure for 24/7 nurses in residential care but believes it could be improved with clearer provisions on the timing of exemptions and guidelines on what constitutes an acceptable exemption.

To deliver essential quality care, it is important that the time registered nurses spend undertaking direct care is maximised and time spent on administration is minimised.

We continue to support the principle of ensuring the right skills are available in the right setting and at the right time, within each staff member’s professional scope of practice.

COTA Australia supports the intention to reduce or limit home care provider administrative and management charges. However, this does not address all the issues that consumers have related to pricing transparency, comparability, and fairness. Achieving the desired outcome of more hours of care will be a complex exercise.

COTA Australia strongly supports the removal of exit fees, a position we have held for a long time.

Part of our submission is a recommendation to change the definition of care management in the Quality-of-Care Principles Care and Services for home care services. The definition change would ensure that care is a valued service and not an administration charge.

COTA Australia fully supports the transparency of aged care information and views this as a particularly high priority for consumers, for which we have been arguing for many years.

Clear, consistent, timely and transparent information about the amount of money a provider is paid for and spends on a service should be available to inform consumer service choices and decisions.

It is important for consumer and public confidence in aged care that clear information about the amount of money that a consumer must contribute towards the services they receive is provided.