News & Events

CEO on the Royal Commission

September 30, 2018

As I write, OCAV is just finishing its input into the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into Aged Care. While we have welcomed the Royal Commission, we have stressed that it is important for the Commission to look back at the 29-plus reviews into the sector, and identify which recommendations made should and could be implemented and funded.

OCAV believes that the Royal Commission should consider a ‘root and branch’ review of the entire system – not just residential aged care but also primary and acute care, and how these are interfaced.

Ultimately what is required is a discussion about the kind of care the nation wants to provide older people and then work out how to fund it.

Central to the Royal Commission is the need to focus on the future. It needs to look at how aged care facilities are funded; is the funding driving best practice? Is the funding driving aged care facilities to look after sicker patients rather than focus on enabled older people to live well longer and retain a purpose in life. We would also like to see discussion about the need to consider dementia friendly communities more seriously than the current focus on dementia specific facilities.

As CEO of OCAV, I will be working with our residents to encourage them to put their viewpoints forward to the Royal Commission. It is in their interests – and the interests of the aged care sector and all Australians – that the voices of older people are heard and respected.

Staying on politics, in an interview with The Today Show recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced he will reverse the decision to increase the retirement age to 70.

We welcome this decision for two reasons: firstly, the lifting of the pension age was mainly a device to save the Budget bottom line which is not appropriate and secondly, we need a more constructive approach to support seniors to gain or retain work.

At OCAV, we welcomed the “More Choices for a Longer Life” package announced in the last Federal Budget seeing it as a progressive policy step for an ageing population.

In June this year, the OCAV Council agreed to ‘retire retirement’  and encouraging residents to continue to remain active in the workforce. In this, we are ahead of the seniors’ housing sector. The move was welcomed by our residents, some of whom want to work for different reasons, and many of whom volunteer.

The past few months have seen us continue to meet with politicians and philanthropic trusts, engaging them with our legacy and sharing our vision for more villages. We are asking them to re-imagine their approach to housing, highlighting the impact that OCAV’s model and villages have on our residents, staff and volunteers.

From our perspective, understanding the difficulties and desires of older people is key to creating housing that works. We have had 150 years of gathering knowledge about older people’s experience with our model, we engage regularly with our residents to prioritise essentials. We don’t always agree but we do listen and attempt to meet at a happy halfway point.

We understand affordability is crucial. However, what is often missing in discussions or media coverage about affordable housing is older people’s needs and wishes.

In our conversations with government and philanthropy, we emphasise the importance of ensuring that older people are woven into the fabric of what makes good communities. Our first Conversations for Change, What should an age-friendly community look like in 2050, has many examples including treating housing as infrastructure not an investment, ensuring communities have great open spaces, put people first, have appropriate transport, shopping, medical and educational facilities.

The opportunity for Australian architects, designers, and builders to initiate and implement new ideas for housing is limitless. The opportunity for more OCAV villages is also limitless but depends on funding.

We are in the process of developing strategies for both the Victorian and Federal elections. Housing is a priority but so is transport, dementia-friendly research and support. We are canvassing our residents’ views on their priorities and looking forward to reporting back to you.

As usual, this newsletter is filled with stories about our residents, staff and volunteers, as well as our latest initiatives that go to making sure OCAV is a happy and vibrant place to live and work, that we assist more elderly Victorians, and that we lead our industry. Enjoy.

Volunteering is important to Deb, enabling her to contribute in the aged care sector. “I love it when the residents get downright cheeky. I love it when we get a bit too loud with laughing."

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