Aged care reforms still failing people in residential care

The national peak body for Australia’s allied health sector says despite ongoing aged care reforms, critical needs of people in residential aged care are still not being met. Allied Health Professions Australia has released a brief: What is needed for quality allied health in Australian aged care?

It has been two years since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety condemned the lack of allied health provision in residential facilities and called for allied health to be recognised as an intrinsic part of the aged care system.

“While there have been important changes, when you look at allied health, the average number of minutes per day per resident is actually worse now than it was in 2019.” said AHPA’s CEO Bronwyn Morris-Donovan.

“It’s being treated as an optional, luxury item. There has been very little Government progress to ensure that allied health is properly funded and provided to older people who need it.”

Allied health professionals such as occupational therapists, dietitians, speech pathologists and physiotherapists provide crucial services to help aged care residents maintain or improve their ability to move, communicate, and live their most fulfilling lives. When allied health is delivered through a multi-disciplinary team, it dramatically improves quality of life and reduces the need for further costly medical interventions and care.

Morris-Donovan also stated that the Royal Commission recommendation that allied health be provided at a level appropriate to each person’s needs, in order to restore and maintain their physical and mental health as much and as long as possible, is essential.

“We keep asking the Government to commit to ensuring that level,” she said. We need to see a plan of action to benchmark and fund allied health, as is being done for personal care and nursing.”

The brief also outlines other related necessary changes. These include rolling out a nationally consistent tool to assess and plan allied care, strong standards of allied health quality and safety, and data collection and workforce planning to make sure all residents receive the allied health they need.

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