Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018

In rising to speak to the Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill 2018, I want to acknowledge the amount of work done by the Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt. He’s very committed to the aged-care sector, and we see that every time Ken speaks. Ken wants to see quality in services. That’s what this bill is about. That’s what the government is about.

When I have talked to the minister and when he has been in my electorate talking to seniors, what does he say that he wants to see? He says that he wants to see happy, healthy and active people. He wants to see people as active and as engaged as possible, irrespective of their age. That’s what the government is working on. That’s what the minister is so passionately committed to, and that is where he spends his time. The Minister for Aged Care knows that how we treat our elderly people is a great reflection on us as a society. He is committed to aged care.
With our ageing population, planning and providing for that ageing population is increasingly important, and this is an opportunity that we’ve taken through this bill. The measures that we’re taking will make it easier for people to make educated decisions about their aged care. The Aged Care (Single Quality Framework) Reform Bill is part of the government’s decision to work with the sector to develop a new, unified quality framework. This framework includes a single set of consumer-focused—I repeat: consumer-focused—quality standards that will apply across all aged-care programs. This will make it simpler and easier for people and help them to make really good decisions about their aged care. This will apply to the Commonwealth, which will have consumers, of course, at its centre. This is what the Minister for Aged Care has always been working on—having people at its centre and at its core.

The Minister for Aged Care is absolutely committed to people who need aged care and is giving them the tools to choose the best type of care for them and also the best type of care where they live. It’s a significant shift away from the top-down institutional-style level of information. This bill is part of the reforms being progressively implemented in aged care to very much create a person-centred, competitive system where consumers will actually drive quality and where red tape—that evil red tape—is reduced for providers of aged care.
Providing a single set of standards that apply across all aged-care programs will lead to a range of achievements. These changes are intended to drive the improvements we all want to see in the quality of care delivered to older Australians. Secondly, they’ll decrease that regulatory burden on aged-care providers. Thirdly, they’ll actively encourage innovation, excellence and continuous improvement.

Currently the system of quality standards is complex. It’s very difficult for ordinary people to understand and manage. There are four different sorts of standards: accreditation standards, home care standards, transition care standards, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program. All of these are different standards. It’s a part of the framework. With the amendments in this bill, provision will be made for the same set of quality standards to apply across all types of aged-care services for the first time.
I congratulate Minister Ken Wyatt for his work in this area. The minister has listened to both consumers of aged-care services and the providers of aged care. The new standards will reflect the contemporary evidence and community expectations of the quality of care and services. It’s the first time accreditation standards have been updated for 20 years. That’s a great achievement for this government. This will increase consistency across the services, making it easier for consumers—and for their families, their carers and their representatives—to make good choices about care and services as their needs change.

We’ll focus on quality and safety for consumers but also encourage providers to offer care and services to promote quality of life and wellbeing. We’ll place a greater emphasis on consumer choice, identity and the idea of partnering with consumers in the care that they choose. This is putting consumers fairly and squarely at the centre of the aged-care process. The minister is very determined to make what can be a difficult time in people’s lives that much easier. This is very much part of what the minister is dedicated to.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about some of the aged-care facilities in my electorate that do provide very good care for people needing that level of care. I want to talk about one in home town of Harvey, called Hocart Lodge. What’s happened repeatedly in regional and rural areas is that the community has got together to actually provide aged-care services and to provide a facility for people to live in. A residential care service often has been provided by the community itself where there was a need. Hocart Lodge started as a small weatherboard home of a local family, the Hocart family, in Harvey. They donated that to the community because there was a need for residential care for our aged citizens. There were some local government representatives who were very committed to providing aged-care in Harvey, where there wasn’t any.

I remember that, at the time, the community had the land donated to them by the Hocart family but there was of course a lot of earthworks needed. It was my own father who provided that. He lived in Brunswick but he knew that we needed a central location in Harvey and we desperately needed a residential aged-care facility. Because this was a community-led, community-driven and community-funded effort to provide this type of aged-care service, the community drew on those who could provide all sorts of in-kind help and support. My dad was an earthmover in the transport and logistics space with a lot of tractors and trucks at his disposal, and he donated all of that to develop that site. It was a significant commitment—three months, I think, he spent there working on the site and getting it up to the standard it needed to be to be built on. That was the beginning.

I see this repeatedly in my electorate, where the community is the one that makes this happen. Years later, when Hocart Lodge needed to be expanded, I’m very proud to say that it was my dad and my brother, again, that donated the gravel, the sand and the earthworks. Actually, I think my brother spent six weeks carting sand out of what was then the rubbish dump area to provide the sand for this project.

As a government, we understand that the community actually gets involved in—and often drives—what needs to be done in rural and regional areas. But it is the community who are the people that we are here to serve, and that’s what we’re doing through this bill—to better serve people and their needs, no matter whether they are in a city or a small community like Harvey.
One of the things that I’m particular proud of as well—perhaps in continuing a family tradition—is that through the ACAR round, when Hocart Lodge needed to increase its capacity to 60 beds it received funding from the federal government: $11.23 million in capital grants to help them rebuild and expand. Mr Deputy Speaker Vasta, you can imagine just what it meant for me to be there for the opening of that new part of Hocart Lodge. I could look back at what my father, my brother and the whole community had done, and then see the federal government able to support the next stage of providing wonderful residential care in a small community. That’s what this government does particularly well.

There were people who had been involved from day one. I just wanted to mention a gentleman by the name of Gary van Burgel, the chair of the voluntary committee that helps to run Hocart Lodge. The other one is Ron Newby, particularly on the building side—he is a builder by trade. The skills and the passion that these two gentleman brought to this project to make it happen took 10 years or more of work. It took that long to get the momentum and for the project to get to the point that it did. I can only commend them on the extraordinary amount of care and effort they put in.

Hocart Lodge offers dementia care and various forms of health care. It’s a 60-bed facility now, and it was developed in a couple of stages by Perkins Builders from Bunbury. When you see that this work is being done locally, that’s what really matters. The facility is provided to local families, and to have a reasonably local builder from Bunbury able to build this was even better.
I look around at so many facilities. I look at Tuia lodge in Donnybrook—again, another fabulous community effort. This was driven by the community. There wasn’t a provider that was in the space at the time, so the community got together and said, ‘We need aged-care facilities in Donnybrook.’ Of course, it’s named after the Tuia family, that did so much in this space. It’s still offering wonderful care.

I look right throughout the area, and when you walk into these particular aged-care facilities they are like homes. They’re a home for our people; they’re a home for us when we get to that age. I just think that it’s so important that the government is supporting these types of facilities in rural and regional areas so that people can actually live in the communities and that they can actually find residential care in the community they’ve spent their life in. People who have known them all their lives can come and visit. They can continue to be so much a part of the community.

Cape Care Ray Village in Busselton is another one. It has such a strong community board and group that have fundraised to make Ray Village what it is. Cape Care, with its permanent residential section, is just wonderful. I went there recently and they now have their own coffee shop as part of the residential aged care area. Your family can come on in, and you can actually go and sit down with your family member who’s in Cape Care. You can sit there and have a coffee as if you were out in the community. There is a section that’s outside and there are umbrellas. It’s a wonderful environment, and it’s the home away from home. That’s the lovely part about what’s provided by these wonderful residential providers in so much of Australia.

I see this in my electorate repeatedly. There’s one after another of these residential aged-care providers that are just doing a fantastic job, and the people who work there are very committed to the residents. I want to thank them for everything they do for the residents. They become very attached. When my own mother died of the complications of Alzheimer’s in a residential aged-care facility, I know the people from the residential facility who looked after her most came to her funeral. They cared so much for her that they came to her funeral. I will respect that forever and I respect the wonderful care they offered my mother. There were nights when I’d leave her and I’d think, ‘I’m so pleased that the people who are working tonight are there,’ because they looked after her so beautifully. And I think of Wattle Hill Lodge in Bunbury. It is another place offering very personalised care for people.

As we ourselves get older, we have to think very carefully about where we would want to be and what we would want to do. I’ve done a number of advanced care planning processes with people. It’s one of the toughest discussions you will have with your family, talking about where you want to be and who you want around you and what options you have. But it’s a very serious discussion that people need to have. Please, everybody, do your aged-care and advanced care planning now with your families so that everybody knows where you want to be and what’s right for you—what care you would like, where you would want to be, the things you do and don’t want, the treatments you do and don’t want. Make sure the arrangements are all in place so that you are actually making decisions. If you’re a young person, please make those plans as well. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so let’s decide and let’s put the plans in place. It takes so much of the angst and pressure off families if, when we do get to a critical situation, our own plans are there to guide our families so that they make the decisions we need and want them to make. They can do that in all confidence, knowing that they’re reflecting our needs, what we as individuals want, when we get to that point. I want to thank all of those who are providing that level of care in my community.