A new watchdog would be established to investigate complaints about, and report on the quality of, residential facilities for the elderly under a blueprint for overhauling Australia's aged-care system.
An alliance of 28 aged-care consumer groups, providers, unions and health professionals will launch today a blueprint to reform an aged-care system they say was designed for 1960s Australia and cannot cope with the needs of the ageing population.
As part of the Australians Deserve to Age Well campaign, the National Aged Care Alliance will call for the establishment of the Australian Aged Care Commission.
The commission would have a range of duties, including managing a transparent and independent accreditation and complaints system for residential and community aged care.
''The current system features comprehensive regulations to support quality care. However, current quality and complaints schemes are too focused on processes rather than outcomes and quality of life for older people,'' the blueprint document says. ''There is some lack of consumer and community confidence in the existing arrangements - in part because they are not transparent and people do not understand how they work.''
Making the commission independent of the Department of Health and Ageing would avoid conflicts and give the community greater confidence, the blueprint said.
The commission would also make recommendations about the pricing of nursing, personal care and support services and accommodation payments for aged-care recipients.
Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said almost one quarter of the population would be aged over 65 by 2041 and reform of the aged-care system needed to begin now.
He said appropriate levels of aged care needed to be an entitlement and people needed more choices about the types of care they needed.
''More people will choose and will get access to care at home. That's where the real gap is right now,'' Mr Yates said.
''People are not getting the support they need and then they end up in hospital or they end up in residential care prematurely which isn't good for them but also isn't good for the money [it costs].''
The reform blueprint warns that aged-care providers have staff turnover rates of up to 40 per cent each year because of low rates of pay.
The Aged Care Alliance wants the government to set a timetable for reform and establish a ''one stop shop'' for aged-care information and assessments, an independent cost of care study and an aged-care reform council to drive the reform process.
Alzheimers Australia chief executive Glenn Rees said Australia needed to prepare for a dementia pandemic.
Mr Rees said close to one million Australians would have the disease by 2050.
''We must invest in dementia risk reduction and research now to reduce the numbers of people with dementia in the future,'' he said.
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