CEO of national peak organisation Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Patrick Reid, has described the discussion on aged care between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott during last Sunday’s debate as “just passing comments.” “I’m a little perplexed that they didn’t come out more strongly on the issue” said Mr Reid, who is the CEO for the organisation who is committed to improving standards and efficiency in the aged care industry.
“…It’s (aged care) going to be a massive issue for Australia not just for this election, but in the next 20 or 30 years” he said.
Key points on the aged care industry that were discussed during the debate included reducing paper work and the potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN).
The idea of reducing paperwork in aged care was brought up by Mr Abbott, who said the less time those in the aged care industry spent on bureaucracy, the more time they would be able to spend on providing better care.
“Paperwork is a big issue for providers,” agreed Mr Reid. “We know that certainly in residential care our nursing staff spend three quarters of our time on paperwork than direct care, reducing paperwork will have a beneficial impact on clients…Everyone knows that aged care is overly complex” he said.
He explained that the current paperwork that was required was handed down from the aged care manual, and was designed to ensure that providers are doing the job that they’re getting paid to do.
“…but in this case, it’s overkill, in that view a lot of this stuff could be broken down into manageable chunks” he said.
Mr Rudd discussed the productivity report which the Government legislated earlier in the year, and said that the aged care sector would be a ‘huge beneficiary’ of the NBN.
Mr Reid agreed that the NBN had potential to help particularly in terms of telehealth and said it was great that Mr Rudd appeared to be “aware of the problem.”
However he said that the NBN was not “the be all and end all” and pointed out that the NBN is at least five years away before it is rolled out across the entire country.
“We can’t wait that long” he said.
When asked his view on Green’s leader Christine Milne’s recent tweet that the Greens would push to improve ratios between nursing staff and residents, he agreed that ratios were an important issue, but were faced with funding and staffing issues.
“With ratios, where are they (the people) going to come from?” he said.
“Aged care is chronically underfunded, unless it’s met with new money, it simply won’t work” he said.
“That’s why we set up 3 million reasons (a campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of growing the aged care industry to care for the three million Australians currently over 65)….aged care isn’t attractive, nurses aren’t compelled to go into aged care – we need people” he said.