Australia must seize the opportunity to redesign our aged care system so that it is focused wholly on the health, independence and wellbeing of older people. The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has made the case for evidence-based care clearly in its final submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The APA’s response to the Counsel Assisting’s Final Report to the Royal Commission was that this is best achieved by providing older Australians access to high quality, preventive health and rehabilitation programs to maximise their quality of life and independence.  

Current deficiencies within the sector which result in rapid physical and mental decline of older Australians when they enter residential aged care must be urgently addressed. This includes ensuring that those who already receive physiotherapy and other allied health care within their own homes continue to do so when they transition to residential aged care.

APA Director and gerontological physiotherapist Rik Dawson says this alone will make a huge difference if it is delivered consistently across the aged care sector.

“It is gratifying that the Counsel Assisting has recognised the need for high quality early intervention and rehabilitation to improve quality of life and reduce the need for acute services. The difference this will make is enormous.”  

The APA welcomes the recognition of the important role of allied health, including physiotherapy, in care provision and management in the Counsel Assisting’s final recommendations. The Association also supports the development of the AN-ACC funding and assessment model but urges the Government to allocate funding for both ongoing and once-off rehabilitation and restorative treatment. 

“The current funding model severely limits the type of treatment physiotherapists can provide and does not support interventions that can prevent life-threatening falls and the onset of other serious conditions,” Mr Dawson said.

The APA urged the Royal Commissioners to ensure consumer benefit, not a focus on the number of providers, should drive changes to the sector. “Flexible and individualised service delivery by multi-disciplinary teams can deliver excellent care when and where it is needed,” Mr Dawson said.


Rik Dawson is available for further comment.


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