Welcoming around 1,200 attendees, 100 guest speakers and just under 150 exhibitors, the congress is the largest aged care gathering in Australia to date, and provided ample opportunity to discuss all things aged care, including the upcoming Royal Commission, workforce and regulatory issues, governance and innovation.
The theme of this year’s Congress, ‘Ageing Transformed… The Dawning of a New Era’ was explored further within LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney’s address on Monday.
“We are witnessing the dawning of a new era where longevity of life is celebrated, consumers are empowered to choose and Australia’s aged care industry re-imagines age services,” he says.
“Our industry seeks to address the challenges and embrace the opportunities that come with the growing numbers of older Australians and their changing needs and expectations.
“While the outcomes of the Royal Commission will help shape the future of the industry, we need to continue to address workforce, standards and funding to make Australia’s aged care system better than right now.
“The issues of ageing and aged care are clearly of national importance and we need to engage all Australians in what it means to age well in our country.”
With around 2,000 people turning 65 years old every week, approximately 1,000 people turning 85 years old every week, and more than 1 million older Australians accessing aged care services every year, the demand for care is increasing, as is the cost of providing these services.
“We all want a safe, high quality, high performing and sustainable aged care system. Older Australians need it and older Australians deserve nothing less,” Mr Rooney says.
The address also highlighted the important role the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will make from 1 January 2019, with the world-class regulatory framework to deliver on risk identification and management consistency, transparency alongside timely and fair complaints management services and processes.
Mr Rooney also made a number of announcements at this year’s Congress - including the launch of LASA’s online Communities of Practice, an online platform for LASA members to communicate on key issues, pose questions, share stories, discuss challenges and provide everyday support.
The launch of a national Nurse Advisor/Administrator Panel will also ensure greater safety and quality of care within the aged care industry.
Mr Rooney also announced LASA has partnered with Universal Care Training (UCT) to expand the suite of training courses offered to its members.
Additionally, LASA will join the Whiddon Group in leading and coordinating the nation’s ‘Aged Care Thank You Day’ next year, a national day dedicated to recognising and celebrating the wonderful people who work in Australia’s aged care industry.
The Congress also celebrated excellence within the industry with the winners of the Excellence in Age Services Awards also being announced at the Gala Dinner on 30 October.
In congratulating the winners, Mr Rooney shared his thoughts on their achievements saying they represented the best care and services being delivered to older Australians by LASA members.
“These awards show just how much great work is being done by our members right around the country, including isolated and remote parts of Australia,” he says.
“Committed and devoted people like Claire, the CarerLinks North team and the staff at Whiddon exemplify the best of what our industry has to offer to older Australians everywhere.
“It is particularly important that we recognise and celebrate the many positive examples of high quality care delivered by the passionate, age services professionals across the country.
“I’m delighted to see the industry get behind these inaugural awards by entering such a strong field of contenders and I’m certain that the bar will be raised even higher next year.”
Winners of the awards covered three categories including:
Outstanding Individual Award - presented to Claire Abbott, nurse practitioner at Peninsula Villages on the New South Wales Central Coast
Outstanding Team Award - taken out by Carer Health and Wellbeing Coaching Team, from CarerLinks North in Melbourne, Victoria
Outstanding Organisational Award - won by The Whiddon Group.