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Crackdown on poor quality nursing homes

Media Release
Bronwyn Bishop


BB51/99
16 July 1999

Federal Minister for Aged Care, Bronwyn Bishop, today called on the Senate to pass new legislation aimed at improving care standards in Australia's nursing homes and hostels.
Mrs Bishop said today's article in the Herald Sun highlighted the urgent need for the Government's new accreditation system, which has been developed over the past 18 months.

"What we are seeing today is the last of Labor's legacy in aged care. They ran down capital funding, they allowed building standards to decline, they failed to provide enough care places to meet the needs of our ageing population and they allowed poor quality nursing homes to operate with impunity.

"The Coalition Government has boosted the number of care places, increased recurrent funding for nursing homes and hostels by 42 percent to $3.5 billion per year and introduced new capital funding arrangements which will see more than $1.3 billion go into new and improved buildings over ten years.

"We require individual older Australians to receive quality care and we want to ensure that providers are accountable to the taxpayer.

"Although the majority of operators provide good quality care, it is unacceptable that the few bad apples are allowed to remain and to continue to drag down the reputation of an otherwise excellent industry.

"We have done what we can to improve Labor's flawed system, but we need change and a new system to bring real improvement," Mrs Bishop said.

Legislation for the Government's new accreditation system will be introduced into Parliament shortly. It will require all operators to meet standards by 1 January 2001 or they will lose funding and close.

"In the meantime, we will take what action we can under the inadequate system we inherited from Labor. We all know that there are some operators who should not be allowed to be in the business. It's long overdue that they got the message - clean up your act or leave.

"I am pleased to see that both consumer groups and the industry peak bodies are behind me in my determination to take strong action against the few poor performers.

"My concern is that individual older Australians receive the care they need, with dignity and quality of life, and that continuity of care is assured in the event we need to close down a home. A smooth transition for those affected will be the top priority," Mrs Bishop said.

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