The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will be a one-stop shop for highlighting failures in nursing homes and bringing them into line while raising quality benchmarks.
The move would see the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and parts of the Department of Health merge into one body.
Additionally, the department would provide a single point of contact for the elderly and their families.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt praised the announcement, which was made yesterday by Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt, saying reforms would bring much-needed reassurance that everyone receiving aged care was being looked after properly.
“I’ve been advocating for change for the past year,” he said.
“I’ve met with constituents and met with Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt multiple times.
“One such meeting with constituents was taken to the Minister and resulted in the Aged Care Quality Agency undertaking unannounced inspections of local aged care facilities within a matter of days,” Mr Pitt said.
He said the Federal Government recently introduced unannounced re-accreditation audits across every residential aged care facility in Australia.
The Hinkler MP said the announcement takes a significant step towards raising the bar in aged care.
“However, I will continue to advocate on behalf of constituents that bring their concerns to my office,” he said.
“These reforms will deliver the care grounded in the principles of dignity and respect that our senior Australians deserve.”
A new performance rating system will also be introduced which will act as a comparison tool when selecting providers.
Mr Wyatt said the new federal model for aged care was a major step in identifying issues.
“Risks to senior Australians will be investigated promptly and care failures identified faster,” he said.
However, a spokeswoman for the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union said the announcement was a Band-Aid fix slotted in before an anticipated 2019 federal election.
Bundaberg aged care advocate Heather Mansell-Brown, whose husband suffered horrifying neglect in a nursing home, labelled the agency a “farce”.
“I think it’s a joke about the flying squad,” she said.
“All of a sudden our honourable member has realised we do have a problem in aged care.”
Mrs Mansell-Brown said she was adamant that mandatory nurse ratios and a royal commission into the industry were the only firm solutions.
Previously labelling the aged care industry as a “national disaster”, she put out a challenge to Hinkler MP Keith Pitt, saying the “fight was on”.
“When it comes to mandatory ratios the honourable member is in for one hell of a big shock within a few days,” Mrs Mansell-Brown warned.