A needs-based approach to aged care would cut waiting times for those who require the most support, Australia’s aged care royal commission has heard.

Funding must also be adjusted to reflect true costs, and rationing of funding should be removed to ensure care is provided to all who need it.

Senior counsel assisting Peter Gray QC told the commissioners in Adelaide on Wednesday of the need for “far-reaching changes” in aged care program design.

“People should be entitled to care that is not only of high clinical quality but also designed to enhance their wellbeing and quality of life, and also respect their preferences,” he said.

As well as the switch to needs-based entitlement, Mr Gray said older Australians must have equitable access to aged care regardless of location and background.

He suggested a shift towards community-based support networks, and proposed that care finders be employed and trained to ensure a smooth process.

These care finders could also arrange basic support on an interim basis to ensure people are not left without adequate support.

The commissioners also heard the industry must refocus on wellbeing and independence..

Mr Gray made submissions on future aged care redesign but said public feedback would be considered before final submissions were made.

He said technology could be used in the redesign as a tool to raise early warning signs of a person’s deterioration.

“Data and analytics have the potential to improve the quality and safety of care provided to each individual at the individual level,” he said.