Address at the Official Opening of Vita Aged Care Facility, Adelaide
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Ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be with you this morning, on what is a special day for South Australians.
I am pleased to be opening ViTA — an innovative and purpose-built aged care facility.
Our aged care system touches the lives of millions of Australians; in fact, more than one million people currently receive aged care services and by 2050, some 3.5 million Australians will need some form of aged care every year.
Australia’s demography has changed. Thanks to better health and better health care people are living longer. And while an ageing population presents challenges, it also presents opportunities for innovation in the design and delivery of aged care services.
We need to innovate and we need to evolve the way we do things, particularly in aged care, in order to be able to equip ourselves to meet future demands, future challenges.
ViTA is an important facility because it represents another step in this evolution.
Providers like ACH are leading the way, with this state-of-the-art facility an example of the changing face of aged care services, where there is a greater focus on choice, control and consumer-directed care.
This is more than an aged care facility. It will also be an advanced place of learning.
More than 500 students are expected to join the staff across disciplines including nursing, allied health, hotel services, pharmacy and direct care.
Today’s opening of ViTA is only the beginning for this unique partnership between SA Health, Flinders University and ACH Group with significant funding through the Commonwealth Government.
There are many misconceptions about aged care services, and I think people walking into this centre would be amazed to see what is offered in modern residential aged care.
Indeed, the Australian Government encourages everyone to start talking about aged care.
Planning in advance, rather than having to scurry around as the result of an emergency, such as a serious fall, ensures help and support will be there when they are needed.
And people have choice about the support they receive.
Today’s launch is very much in line with the first phase of the governments changes to aged care, which came into effect on 1 July.
Over the next 10 years, the Australian Government will implement changes to help make our aged care system more efficient and flexible, better coordinated and consistent, and easier to navigate.
The 1 July reforms will build a system that offers choice and flexibility for consumers, with more support for people to stay independent and in their own homes and communities, if they choose.
Research indicates that a person’s stay in acute care can be reduced by about 11 days with restorative services such as those ViTA will provide.
Moreover, it has been estimated that an additional 100 people will return home, rather than go into residential care each year, because of ViTA.
The reforms will see an increase in aged care places to a ratio of 125 places for every 1000 people aged 70 years and over by 2021-22. That is up from 113 places for every 1000 people aged 70 years and over on the most recent figures.
Combined with the projected population increase, this equates to nearly 140,000 more aged care places by 2021-22.
Reduction in red tape is a priority for the Government and will give providers greater opportunity to meet the needs of consumers.
The Government is rolling out a Consumer Directed Care approach to delivery in the Home Care Packages Program, which also helps to more closely meet consumer needs.
Business viability is also a focus for the Government.
For aged care businesses to grow and flourish, a ‘consumer first’ approach with choice and flexibility for consumers will help businesses be competitive.
Aside from the benefits to older Australians, this new centre is set to boost the local economy.
This new centre has already created 2000 construction jobs.
And ACH Group says it expects to directly employ more than 160 staff from today.
It will deliver not only great outcomes to its principal residents, but even out to the wider community through the residents’ families, staff and students.
Our aged care system is already world class, so much so, that countries including China, Japan, Vietnam, and Sweden have sought Australia’s advice on aged care.
In a changing world with an ageing population, we need to strive for improvements.
These particular reforms have a consumer focus which will yield the personal and economic benefits of independence, wellbeing and control of life and ensure a viable aged care sector.
With facilities such as this one, Australia will remain a good place for a long life.