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Aged care reform framework for a diverse population of senior Australians

The Philippine Times attended a webinar with the Department of Health about aged care reforms announced in the Budget and in response to the Aged Care Royal Commission.

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Kyla Marie Nigos
Kyla Marie Nigos
Kyla is an incoming senior at the Far Eastern University-Manila majoring in Philippine Arts, Culture, and Society. She aims to amplify the voices of migrants and international human rights through her writings.

The Australian government allotted 17.7 billion dollars for a five-year reform package for the quality and safety of the aged care sector. With Australia being a multi-cultural society, aged care reforms cater to the needs of all older people. It includes diverse groups, such as people living with disabilities, cognitive impairment including dementia, the LGBTI community and people of cultural and linguistical diverse (CALD) backgrounds. 

The July 23 Department of Health webinar about aged care reforms for CALD communities, attended by The Philippine Times

Early June, the Australian Department of Health announced a series of webinars about aged care reforms. The webinar comprises eight parts, tackling residential aged care, home care, ICT, improvements in access to culturally inclusive services, and the betterment of support for the aged care workforce. 

According to the Department of Health, one in three individuals in aged care is born overseas. With over 30 percent of the senior Australians the population of diverse groups, CALD groups, indigenous groups, and people with disabilities, building inclusive aged care programs is a vital improvement to the sector. 

“…the main area is communication. That it is communication and cultural understanding or cultural empathy that needs to occur so that older people are comfortable and are heard,” said Mary Patetsos, Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Community Councils of Australia (FECCA). Patetsos spoke during the 22 July webinar, which focused on improving outcomes for people in aged care from CALD backgrounds. 

The proposed reforms will support the diverse needs of all senior Australians, which are anchored to five key pillars.

Pillar 1: Home Care

Funding will be for 40,000 Home Care Packages in the first year of implementation and another 40,000 the following year. It will also fund the development of the new support-at-home program, the increased support for informal and family carers, and the easier connection of senior Australians to aged care services. Funding will also boost residential respite services to 8,400 additional clients yearly. An addition to the local Community Care Finders network is to provide face-to-face support to vulnerable senior Australians.  

Pillar 2: Residential Aged Care Services and Sustainability

An increase in the aged care workforce provides more frontline care to 204,000 senior Australians who live in aged care each year. This is to fund better care and a viable system, to improve the experience of senior Australians in residential care, and ensures the care needs and preferences are met and is sustainable. 

Pillar 3: Residential Aged Care Quality and Safety 

These measures aim to improve the accessibility of health care in residential settings and the immediate improvement to the quality of care services in dementia, diversity, food and nutrition. Such measures strengthen clinical care standards, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, to protect senior Australians further and give importance to decision-making through a new star-rating system. 

Pillar 4: Workforce

This pillar focuses on growing and upskilling the home care workforce with an additional 18,000 personal care workers. The government is creating a single assessment workforce for aged care to supervise senior Australians’ quality, consistency, and experience. Funding will also provide additional financial support and incentives for registered nurses for the continued growth of the workforce. It also includes investments in increasing scholarship programs and the development of training workshops.

Pillar 5: Governance

This funding is to support aged care providers to improve their governance and meet stronger legislative obligations. This is to strengthen the Aged Care Act that will provide a new council for better and appropriate representation of people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

The aged care reform was provided 65 million dollars by the government supporting the increase of translating and interpreting services to assist people of different backgrounds, languages, and those impaired and living with disabilities; to address the gaps and barriers of communication. This includes improved access to information for non-English speaking senior Australians and their families, improving the quality of services and advocacies of aged care for CALD communities.

Diagram of the Australian Government’s aged care reforms through the Five Pillars

For more information about the framework and how it impacts diverse seniors in Australia, read more at https://health.gov.au/aged-care-reforms.

Kyla Marie Nigos
Kyla Marie Nigos
Kyla is an incoming senior at the Far Eastern University-Manila majoring in Philippine Arts, Culture, and Society. She aims to amplify the voices of migrants and international human rights through her writings.

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