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12 Apr 2021

Care Can't Wait - Australia's aged care system is in crisis

Aged Care - care can't wait

The AMA is championing for high quality medical and health care delivered by doctors and nurses to be at the heart of Australia's aged care system.

Older Australians deserve to have the same opportunity to have the best quality of life like everyone else, and the same access to high quality medical and nursing care they have enjoyed throughout their lives

Health care for older people is getting more complex, not less. Increasing life
expectancy and an ageing population means greater complexity of medical care in old age
and increased demand for aged care and health care services now and in the future.

Reform is desperately needed because the scale of the problem is growing, but the
system is already struggling. 

On this page...

What is the AMA doing?

AMA's aged care priorities 

The AMA made five detailed submissions and appeared three times to tell the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety our experiences on behalf of our patients, their families, friends and carers. 

Now is the time to design and implement well-funded health and aged care policies to meet the future demand and needs of our older people.

Key issues 

  • Disconnect between the aged care and health care systems; 

  • Fragmented and confusing system leads to poor continuity of care for older people; 

  • Contact with qualified medical professionals (GPs and Registered Nurses) is too limited; 

  • Poor health care in aged care results in avoidable hospital admissions of older people that are frequent and expensive; 

  • Older people end up over-medicated or inappropriately medicated; 

  • Many older people could continue to live at home if home care was properly resourced; 

  • Waiting lists for Home Care Packages are too long. 

The AMA wants the Government to take urgent measures to make immediate and effective improvement to aged care including to:

  1. Increase Medicare rebates for nursing home attendances by GPs by 50 per cent to compensate for the additional time and complexity involved in comparison to a GP consultation in their own rooms.

  2. Introduce MBS telehealth items for phone calls between the GP, nursing home staff and relatives.

  3. Introduce a Medical Access Aged Care Quality Standard for nursing homes.

  4. Introduce Care Finders who work closely with GPs to coordinate both health and aged care services.

  5. Introduce hospital aged care outreach teams in all local health networks, in coordination with a patient’s usual GP.

  6. Ensure that Aged Care Assessment remains with State health services which involve medical specialists, coordinating and collecting information from the older person’s usual GP.

  7. Mandate minimum staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes.

  8. Mandate 24/7 on-site Registered Nurse availability in nursing homes, and according to the level of residents’ needs.

  9. Mandate a minimum qualification for personal care attendants that includes basic health care, and continuous training of the aged care workforce with specific funding attached for training.

  10. Ensure interoperability between GP clinical and aged care software systems, including My Aged Care and My Health Record.

  11. Ensure that Home Care Packages are available to all those who need them, at the level of their need and a maximum of three months following the assessment.

Putting health care back into aged care Report

 

Aged care - care can't wait

Read the full report

The AMA has a vision for the future of Australia's aged care system, where the health care and aged care systems work together and complement each other.

The AMA has released a report that outlines the action required to future-proof aged care so we have a system we, ourselves, would be happy to live in and send our parents and other loved ones to,

The report contains an illustration of the pitfalls currently experienced by patients journeying through our fragmented aged care system with the story of John, representing a typical patient who gets a dementia diagnosis. His unhappy fate is compared with the ideal experience John and his wife should have, achievable through the AMA’s vision for aged care. 

It makes 11 recommendations to Government, including reforms that would improve patient care by increasing contact time with qualified medical professionals (GPs and Registered Nurses) in aged care.

Potential savings  

The table below shows AMA’s cost estimate of avoidable hospital admissions, presentations and stays from older people in the community and in nursing homes. These savings would be achievable if AMA’s vision for aged care reform was implemented. (modelling is provided in full report.) 

Aged care table

Read the full report

Latest Media

AMA Position Statements

AMA Submissions