Training programs specifically designed for leaders of aged care organisations will become available under a new partnership agreement announced by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA).

    The programs include the ‘Governing to Protect Vulnerable People’ program developed by AICD in 2018 in light of findings from successive Royal Commissions and inquiries. “This course was designed to be a very practical program to assist directors and executives who are responsible for ensuring the safety and protection of people in their care. The course uses recent institutional failures to demonstrate and apply the key governance lessons learned, and through such failures, leaders can learn how to have a more accountable culture,” AICD’s NFP sector leader, Phil Butler said in announcing the memorandum of understanding.

    ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow reflected on the opportunity for members of both organisations to better understand their governance and leadership roles. “Our partnership with AICD will enable more targeted resources to be developed which will assist directors and executives of aged care organisations to better perform their roles. However, we also know that the lessons learned from aged care will be just as valuable for a broad range of NFP sector organisations.” The AICD and ACSA will work together over the coming months on the highest priority opportunities, paving the way for a long-term partnership in coming years.

    The aged care Royal Commission so far

    The partnership comes at a time when the serious issues in front of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety – such as acute need, outdated quality standards and inadequate funding models – are set to prompt a rethink of governance in the sector. Set up in response to concerns about abuse, substandard care and systemic failure, the Royal Commission is actually an important opportunity to examine the big challenges and opportunities presented by our ageing nation, and to get the entire community involved in a discussion about the care we expect and how we can ensure that sustainably into the future.

    More than 1,700 public submissions have been received and last week (18-22 March) commissioners the Hon Richard Tracey AM QC and Lynelle Briggs AO GAICD heard evidence relating to home care services for older people. In an ACSA statement, Ms Sparrow said the industry is aware of areas of community concern around the pricing of the provision of home care , and is working towards continuous improvement. “Of particular importance to both consumers and the industry is the need for greater transparency in pricing.” And with new data showing 128,000 people waiting for support, there is a need for more packages to be made available, she added.

    Earlier evidence examined key features of the aged care, quality, safety and complaints system. It revealed a raft of issues across the sector including long delays for home care packages, a lack of funding, understaffing and the need for better training.

    The inquiry also heard that the Australian aged care sector needs a massive funding boost. Sparrow told the royal commission in her evidence that the aged care workforce needs to triple by 2050 in order to care for an ageing population. In residential care people are entering later with more complex health conditions requiring a better interface with health care and funding that reflects their needs. Older Australians want to live at home for longer, but they need help to do so and many people are waiting more than 12 months for a Federal Government home care package. In her evidence, Assistant Secretary of In Home Aged Care at the Department of Health, Fiona Buffinton said at least $2 billion will be needed to fund home care packages at all levels to cut waiting times down to three months.

    Governments have failed to implement some key recommendations of past inquiries, so in this respect, the Royal Commission with its superior clout is very welcome, Sparrow told Company Director magazine (May). “The judicial approach is a different focus. We are hopeful it will move things along because in a lot of those reviews the same recommendations have been made but not acted upon.”

    According to a royal commission background paper, the proportion of people aged 65 years or over in the total population is projected to increase from 15 per cent at 30 June 2017 to between 21 and 23 per cent in 2066. “Older Australians represent a steadily increasing proportion of our total population and we continue to have one of the highest life expectancies in the world,” the paper says.

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