The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has released proposed recommendations, which include better support for volunteers who help older people live a meaningful and dignified life. In these draft recommendations, the Commission proposes that from July 2021, the Australian Government better funds organisations in the sector to support their volunteers through designated supervision and training, and to offer extended volunteer support for those in aged care and at risk of social isolation. See below for more specific details behind the volunteer-related draft recommendation.
Proposed Recommendation 51: Volunteers and Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme
From 1 July 2021, the Australian Government (and, from 1 July 2023, the Australian Aged Care Commission) should promote volunteers and volunteering in aged care to support older people to live a meaningful and dignified life and supplement the support and care provided to them through the aged-care system, whether in their own home or a residential care home, by:
- Increasing the funding to the Volunteer Grants under the Families and Communities Program – Volunteer Grants Activity in 2021–22: This funding will support organisations and community groups to recruit, train and support volunteers who assist to older people.
- Requiring designated volunteer coordination and training: As a condition of approval and continuing approval of all approved providers of aged care services, which use volunteers to deliver in-house co-ordinated and supervised volunteer programs, they must:
- Assign the role of volunteer coordination to a designated staff member.
- Provide induction training to volunteers and regular ongoing training, to volunteers in caring for and supporting older people, complaints management and the reporting of abuse and neglect.
- Retain evidence of provision of such training.
- Providing extended volunteer support for those in aged-care at risk of social isolation: Additional funding and expansion of the Community Visitor Scheme (to be renamed the Aged Care Volunteer Visitor Scheme) will provide extended support for people receiving aged-care at risk of social isolation.
Aged care advocacy
Volunteers are vital to aged care services. Nurturing and investing in the volunteering workforce will help ensure older people get the care and support they need and deserve. Volunteering Australia’s submission asked that the Royal Commission reflect the following principles in their final report and recommendations:
- Volunteers are an integral part of the aged care workforce.
- Effective strategic workforce planning includes volunteers.
- Volunteer and paid worker roles need to be differentiated.
- Volunteer management needs to be appropriately funded.
- The challenges facing volunteering in aged care need to be addressed.
- Older people should be supported to volunteer for as long as they are able.
We have continued our advocacy work in relation to volunteering in aged care following on from our submission including:
- A letter to the Minister for Aged Care, Senator Colbeck, drawing his attention to the impact of COVID19 on volunteering in aged care.
- A supplementary submission re COVID19 impact to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.