Martin Laverty CEO of Catholic Health Australia said government rationing of aged care services protected poor quality providers.
By Natasha Egan and Linda Belardi.
The families featured in Monday night’s Lateline report deserve answers, says Catholic Health Australia CEO Martin Laverty, but another large-scale inquiry into aged care is unnecessary..
Addressing the HISA conference in Adelaide on Wednesday, Mr Laverty said he had been inundated with enquires from the mainstream media in response to the worrying report, but he called for calm on the need for a broader investigation into the operation of both the aged care system and the accreditation standards.
“Lateline on Monday night aired some very worrying concerns about the safety of a number of Australians in aged care services,” said Mr Laverty. “These individual matters warrant the urgent attention of the aged care accreditation agency, they warrant the attention of the aged care complaints scheme and the families involved deserve answers,” he said.
“We must ensure for those that have found either themselves, a loved one or family member in circumstances where the care that has been delivered to them has not been of sufficient quality and standard, that those individual concerns are addressed.”
However, he reiterated that what Lateline revealed was not his experience of the broader system and that aged care is one of the most overregulated human services in the country.
“My experience of aged care is a group of dedicated individuals, health professionals, care givers and administrators actually committed to the safety, health and wellbeing of older Australians,” he said.
Government rationing ‘protects poor quality providers’
He said while robust regulation and oversight of aged care services was critical, consumers also deserved the right to choose where they receive their services.
“So much of what we see occurring in circumstances where aged care services may not be meeting consumer expectations, is the struggling with the reality of government rations,” said Mr Laverty.
He said that without free market competition providers that are not sufficiently resourced or providing sufficient quality services do not find themselves pushed out of the market.
“Whenever you have a ration in place, that is protecting those providers that aren’t meeting consumer expectations, you are likely to see the most unfortunate circumstances that we are now having Lateline focus on.”
ACSA CEO Adjunct Professor John Kelly also rejected the idea of a Royal Commission inquiry into aged care saying the problems were familiar and the money and time would be better spent reforming the system immediately.
Emeritus Professor Rhonda Nay from La Trobe University said another investigation was not necessary. Instead, she said tackling social attitudes and values through a major public education campaign, similar to the AIDS campaign, was needed to remove the general stigma related to older people and to address elder abuse in all its forms.
Read AAA’s coverage of the Lateline report and other reaction – ‘Aged care under fire’