PROFILE: With the bulk of the Living Longer Living Better reforms well underway, Suzanne Greenwood says the Aged Care Roadmap has been the most significant reform initiative in the two years she has been at the helm of Catholic Health Australia.
The roadmap envisages a system architecture that will help inform and shape the sector as it transitions to a consumer-driven and market-based aged care system, she said.
It also recognised the need for an affordable and therefore sustainable aged care system, said Ms Greenwood, CEO of the hospital and aged care peak.
“Make no mistake about it, the roadmap’s destinations envisage a dramatically different aged care world to that which currently exists,” Ms Greenwood told Australian Ageing Agenda.
If utilised by the Department of Health for reform and development of policy it would lead to a sustainable system, she said. However, it presented significant transitional risks for aged care providers and government must formally support it, Ms Greenwood said.
With such strong bipartisan support surrounding the reforms to date, MsGreenwood said she expected similar for the roadmap, but suggested there could be better utilisation of the Aged Care Sector Committee.
“That next step is to develop a work program that is based on the actions identified in the roadmap and a big part of that is the allocation of the responsibilities of what everybody needs to do. We need to better utilise the Aged Care Sector Committee because we could provide for regular reporting to that committee to ensure that things are kept on track.”
A rich two years
Ms Greenwood said it had been an enriching couple of years in the role, which began with a focus on reminding CHA that the ‘C’ stood for ‘Catholic’ and to understand from within and communicate out the difference the organisation made.
“If we are talking about reform, we are the ones highlighting the need to ensure timely access for all who need aged care services. We are bringing forward that voice of those who sometimes don’t have a voice.”
Ms Greenwood said she was fortunate to have previously worked at two CHA member organisations – St Vincent de Paul Society of Queensland as general counsel and at St Vincent’s Health and Aged Care in Brisbane as corporate counsel and company secretary.
Immediately prior to joining CHA, she was national CEO of the Institute of Arbitrators & Mediators Australia. Ms Greenwood was also a lawyer at Queensland Health for four years. She said her legal background is an asset to her current role.
“There’s a lot about the [CEO] role which is advocacy, lobbying government and looking at policy and identifying the reform that is needed there. Legal training helps equip you for that, but it also gives you a pretty measured approach to things.
“When you have been doing that for 20-odd years, you can’t leave it behind. One of my early priorities was to make sure back of office was sorted out and the policies and procedures were in place.”
Workforce strategy needed
Discussing the destination outlined in the roadmap, Ms Greenwood said that ensuring availability of a large skilled workforce to care for older Australians was one of the big issues.
An aged care workforce strategy was needed but the respective roles of government, employers and employees in its development must first be understood by all stakeholders, she said.
Ensuring quality of service provision may be another issue as the sector moved towards more demand driven services with consumers and carers empowered to exercise choice and new service providers seizing opportunities of the growing market enter the sector, said Ms Greenwood.
The full version of this profile appears in the current edition of Australian Ageing Agenda magazine (Sept-Oct)
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