Australia’s aged care system is a mess. A new horror story is revealed almost every day the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety sits. Almost every day the COVID-19 death toll mounts in non-government residential aged care facilities in Victoria.
The solutions are not simple. More money and better regulation are both necessary, but won’t be enough. Unless Australia fundamentally changes the culture of its aged care system – by changing legislated underlying principles, governance, and financial incentives – the Royal Commission’s report will be added to the pile of previous reports which haven’t led to the necessary, transformative change.
This report identifies five principles which should shape system design: Independence, self-fulfilment, and participation in community; Informed and supported choice and control; Universal access to reasonable and necessary supports; Equity and non-discrimination; and Dignity, including dignity in death. A rights-based approach to aged care would also recognise the rights of carers and staff.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety should use a rights-based approach to shape its recommendations. A new system, based on the rights of older people, will look very different from the provider-centric system Australia has now.