By Russell Bricknell, CEO, Juniper Aged Care

Aged care employees are the heart and soul of our aged care system, providing compassionate and quality care to our elderly population. For most, it is more than “just a job”. They truly believe in making a difference in the lives of those who put their trust in them. As we come together today to celebrate Aged Care Employee Day, let us take a moment to recognise and honour these extraordinary individuals, driven by compassion and dedication.

I witness firsthand our employees’ dedication and hard work. They go above and beyond to meet the needs of those in their care. They become the confidants, the friends, and the family that aging hearts long for. They often work long hours and face significant emotional and physical challenges. Yet, they continue to provide an essential service, ensuring that their residents receive the care and support they deserve.

However, true appreciation for aged care employees goes beyond accolades and applause. We must be advocates for change and work towards creating a sustainable future, not only for these exceptional individuals but also for the older people they care for. We must ask ourselves if the system is truly providing the dignified and equitable outcomes that every older person deserves.

Why do we need to look at the current system when there are already so many reforms occurring in the aged care sector? Because we need to plan for the future now. The statistics are staggering. With the population of Australians aged 65 and over projected to rise to 22% by 2057 and one in four Australians by 2097, the demand for aged care will only increase. As will the need for a values-driven workforce.

In partnership with UnitingCare Australia, I firmly believe in a future where every individual has equal access to high-quality aged care, where financial circumstances should not be a major barrier. An inadequate funding model should not serve as a barrier when it comes to receiving compassionate and appropriate support.

To achieve equity and fairness within our aged care system, we must advocate for a model where those who can afford to pay more are encouraged to do so.

To achieve equity and fairness within our aged care system, we must advocate for a model where those who can afford to pay more are encouraged to do so. By distributing costs in accordance with one’s ability to pay, we can ensure that those who are more financially capable contribute proportionately, thereby alleviating the burden on those who have limited means. This approach promotes a fair and equitable system that allows everyone to access quality aged care without facing unfair financial obstacles.  This ensures that older people within Australia have their right to access quality aged care services sustained into the future.

Furthermore, it is crucial for our government to establish an adequate safety net that prevents individuals with limited financial resources from being left behind. This safety net should guarantee that no one is denied the quality care they need, regardless of their financial circumstances. By implementing a system that ensures every individual’s access to care, we can create a society where every aging individual is afforded the dignity and support, they deserve, regardless of their personal financial situation.

To achieve this the government needs to implement structural reforms that ensure the financial sustainability of our aged care system.

This Aged Care Employee Day, it is imperative that we acknowledge and honour the invaluable contributions made by the individuals who form not only the backbone but also the heart and soul of our aged care system. Undoubtedly, our aged care employees play an essential role in providing compassionate care to our loved ones. However, it is crucial that we also acknowledge the pressing need for necessary reforms that ensure future sustainability. The time has come for the government to prioritise a more robust system that not only empowers aged care employees but also secures a sustainable future for our nation.

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