Flashback Friday: Supporting GPs to care for senior Australians | AMA (WA)

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Flashback Friday: Supporting GPs to care for senior Australians

Thursday October 18, 2018

The Hon. Ken Wyatt, Federal Minister for Senior Australians & Aged Care

Our government is absolutely committed to delivering first-class aged care for senior Australians.

Our elders deserve to be treated with respect and dignity and I know GPs are as committed to delivering this quality of service as I am.

Our government is investing record funding in aged care, with spending rising by $1 billion a year, to $23.6 billion by 2023.

This investment will see the number of home care packages increase from 87,000 in 2017-18 to 151,000 by 2021-22 – including 34,000 more high-level packages by 2021-22.

Backing all of this investment is the need to support, and grow, the aged care workforce – including the GPs who care for our senior Australians.

It is important to maintain or improve rates of medical practitioners’ visits to aged care homes and I know of numerous outstanding and innovative examples of GPs servicing senior Australians in residential care.

Our government has recently released Australia’s first industry-led Aged Care Workforce Strategy, that recognises senior Australians have increasingly complex care needs that frequently require multidisciplinary services drawn from across aged, health and disability care.

The strategy seeks to rapidly grow our professional workforce, to ensure we not only have enough aged care workers, but
that they have the right skills and experience, are in the right places and are able to meet the needs and expectations of
Australians, their families and the communities around them.

It is being implemented by the aged care industry, with strong government support.

In the immediate term, we’re working closely with key industry stakeholders, including the Australian Medical Association
and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, to improve the support we provide to GPs.

The new Practice Incentive Program (PIP) Quality Improvement Incentive will support general practices to implement flexible and responsive services.

The MBS Taskforce has been tasked with considering GP services in residential aged care facilities as part of the broader review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

The purpose of the MBS Review is to ensure the schedule is contemporary and reflects clinical best practice in all settings,
including aged care facilities.

The MBS Taskforce General Practice Clinical Committee is expected to provide advice to the government in coming months.

The Federal Government’s unprecedented aged care reform agenda is continuing, with many new initiatives to protect vulnerable senior Australians.

This includes the creation from 1 January 2019 of a tough new cop on the beat – the independent Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to accredit, assess and monitor the compliance of aged care facilities against new quality standards.

Also critical to the future of care services for senior Australians is the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

This Inquiry has a wide remit, including: examining the challenges and opportunities for delivering accessible, affordable and high quality aged care services; what the government, the aged care sector, Australian families and the wider community can do to strengthen care services; how to allow people greater choice, control and independence and how to improve engagement with families and carers.

It will also recognise the interface of the aged care system with a range of other systems (e.g. primary healthcare, acute
care and disability services, including how people transition between systems and care settings).

A key task of the Royal Commission will be to help build a national culture of respect for ageing and senior Australians, who are among our greatest living treasures.

As the Minister responsible, I will continue striving to ensure they receive the best care possible – and working together with our nation’s dedicated GPs is fundamental to this.