Opinion: Aged care innovation a fantasy without urgent reform

Opinion: Aged care innovation a fantasy without urgent reform
Opinion: Aged care innovation a fantasy without urgent reform

Sue Thomson is the CEO of McLean Care.

In this guest post, Sue Thomson, CEO of regional provider McLean Care, shares a view on how innovation needs to be supported by the government to make it more accessible to Australians in remote and country areas. McLean Care is the organization behind the award-winning iAgeHealth virtual workforce solution that allows nursing and allied health staff to reach remote areas, especially those experiencing shortages of healthcare professionals.

Australia’s hopes of innovation in aged care have suffered a major setback after the Federal Government failed to respond to the recommendations of the Aged Care Taskforce report in its 2024 Budget.

The government must prioritize funding for innovation to ensure a future world-class aged care service that Australians can rely on.

There are many challenges facing the aged care sector as numerous reviews and inquiries have highlighted, and we must act now so that Australians can be assured of quality and dignified care later in life.

If we do not properly fund innovation, we are risking the quality of care we can provide to older Australians, particularly in regional, rural, and remote communities. This problem cannot be kicked down the road, the government must address the funding shortfalls which are threatening the sustainability of the sector.

The Aged Care Taskforce report made key recommendations to address the funding challenges facing aged care, including encouraging innovation. The government has everything it needs to act right now, and I urge the Federal Government not to delay any longer in responding to those recommendations.

When it comes to aged care funding, regional Australians get left behind. We need a better funding model to support a sustainable future for a sector that every Australian can rely on.

McLean Care was awarded ‘Innovation of the Year’ at the World Aging Festival 2024 for
its cutting-edge iAgeHealth platform and was also recognized with the Innovation and
Technology Across Care 2024 Award for Excellence in Technology Implementation.

iAgeHealth is a virtual clinical workforce service that provides 24/7 access to experienced clinicians using diagnostic devices, offering older Australians in regional, rural and remote communities the ability to connect to specialist clinical services.

Our iAgeHealth platform shows the power of innovation, proving that it is possible to provide equitable access to quality health care services no matter where you live in Australia.

Right now, iAgeHealth is fully funded by McLean Care so we are limited in how many Australians we can help with this service. A postcode should not dictate whether an older person – or any person – can receive the primary care they need to maintain their health and wellbeing.

My plea is to the Australian government – ​​please invest in aged care innovation and by
doing so, invest in a better future for some of our most vulnerable.

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