News & Resources

Aged Care Royal Commission Update – Final Hearing

Written by Ilsa Bird – Sector Support Coordinator

The Royal Commission is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come together as a nation to consider how we can create a better system of care for elderly Australians that better aligns with the expectations of the Australian people. – The late Honourable Richard Tracey AM RFD QC

Recommendations at the Final Hearing

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety began on 8 October 2018. Since that date, public hearings were held in all eight capital cities and four regional centres being Broome, Cairns, Mudgee and Mildura. In total there were 97 days of hearings at which 641 witnesses gave evidence. The Interim Report was delivered in October 2019 and due to a cessation of hearings during COVID this year, the Final Report will now be delivered in February 2021.

The final hearing for the Royal Commission was held on 22-23 October. Over these two days, Counsel submitted 124 recommendations for the consideration of the Commissioners. Their submission did not repeat the previous submissions made on workforce on 26 February 2020 and on program redesign on 4 March 2020.

Some of the most significant recommendations for aged care included:

  • A new aged care act
  • Three-and-a-half hours of direct care per resident per day
  • Stopping GPs prescribing antipsychotics
  • More Indigenous staff
  • A public star rating system allowing families to compare nursing homes for quality and safety
  • More nurses
  • An aged care pricing authority to tell the Government how much needs to be spent on aged care rather than the Government deciding what the Budget can afford
  • Registering all carers
  • Clearing the home care waiting list by the end of next year.

In their final submission to Commissioners, Counsel Assisting Peter Rozen QC and Peter Gray QC included home care among the top three “noteworthy and prolonged systemic failures,” in aged care, along with funding and restrictive practices.

The proposed recommendations for home care included:

  • Allocating a package to everyone on the waiting list by December 2021
  • Reducing the wait list to one month by July 2024
  • No new level 5 HCP
  • Making the highest level of home care funding equal to residential care
  • Integrating HCP and CHSP as part of a single aged care program including residential, respite and short-term restorative care
  • Introducing of ‘care at home’ as a grant-funded service category, along with social supports, respite and AT and home modification
  • Pay rise for home care staff
  • Repealing consumer contribution and replacing with nominal co-payment
  • Transitioning to payment in arrears system of funding

To access a full list of the recommendations, click here.

What happens now?

Now that the Hearings have ceased, there will be an opportunity for interested parties to make written submissions in response to Counsel Assisting’s final submissions. Responses must be submitted to the Solicitors Assisting the Royal Commission by email to ACRCfinalsubmissions@royalcommission.gov.au by 4:00pm (AEDT) on 12 November 2020. After this date, the Commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs will be required to deliver their final report by 26 Feb 2021.

To receive all future Royal Commission updates including information about the final report, sign up to the Sector Support e-Bulletin here.