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27 Apr 2018

Australia’s ageing population is likely to have more chronic and complex medical conditions than generations that have gone before it, yet people will live longer and will require a high quality aged care system.

The AMA has made this and many other points in its newly released Position Statement on Resourcing Aged Care.

Not only does the Position Statement highlight the difficulties and demands that will be placed on the system, but it also calls for better resourcing to ensure the elderly and frail are well cared for.

In releasing the Position Statement, AMA Vice President Dr Tony Bartone pointed to how the document outlines the workforce and funding required to achieve a high quality, efficient aged care system that enables equitable access to health care for older people.

“The aged care system, now and into the future, must be adequately resourced so that older Australians are able to access the same level and quality of medical care as other people,” he said.

“They should not receive lesser care or attention just because they are old.

“Care for older people in the best and most appropriate environment is a basic human right.”

Dr Bartone said the elderly will require an increasing amount of medical support due to significant growth in the prevalence of medical disorders and associated increase in life expectancy.

He added that while the AMA welcomes the Government’s recent decision to establish an Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, it was only the beginning of what needed to be done.

“This Commission is consistent with the AMA’s call for an independent Aged Care Commissioner, which was a major recommendation of our submission to the Carnell-Paterson aged care review, and is a core part of our Position Statement,” Dr Bartone said.

“The Commission is a good start, but much more needs to be achieved to ensure older Australians receive the care they need and deserve in their later years.

“The AMA also welcomes the Government’s decision to make it compulsory for aged care providers to provide influenza vaccination programs for all their staff.

“This further underlines the need for facilities to be properly resourced so that residents have ready access to vital medical and nursing care.”

AMA members have reported cases where nurses are being replaced by junior personal care attendants, and some residential aged care facilities do not have any nurses on staff after hours.

Dr Bartone said it was unacceptable that some residents, who have high care needs, cannot access nursing care after hours without being transferred to a hospital Emergency Department.

“We need more nurses employed full time in aged care,” he said.

“We need to provide greater incentives for doctors to attend aged care facilities on a more regular basis to meet demand and ensure quality medical care for older people.

“And we need to introduce enforceable standards that require facilities to provide clinically-equipped doctor treatment rooms that are readily available for use by doctors and nurses, with access to patient files, in existing and future residential aged care facilities.

“Medical care, including provision of clinical facilities and a full-time, well-trained nursing workforce, must be at the heart of all future policy and planning for aged care in this country.”

Key recommendations of the Position Statement include more support and Government funding for ongoing access to health care at home; improved access for older people in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) to doctors through enhanced Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) funding; and improved accreditation standards to include a satisfactory registered nurse to resident ratio in RACFs.

The AMA Position Statement on Resourcing Aged Care can be found at: at https://ama.com.au/position-statement/aged-care-resourcing-2018

CHRIS JOHNSON


Published: 27 Apr 2018