Seniors and aged care providers say the government must act on systemic failures in regulatory oversight and study role of quality agency following Senate report.
Council on the Ageing Australia said Tuesday’s interim report from the Senate committee examining aged care accreditation had highlighted the failure of regulatory authorities to pick-up poor practices and the need for more stringent accreditation practices and support for whistle-blowers.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that the catastrophic failures at Oakden would never have come to light without the persistence of the families,” said COTA chief Ian Yates of the South Australian facility.
“It’s beyond appalling that it took the death of Bob Spriggs for that to happen.”
Mr Yates pointed out that the aged care wings at Oakden had received accreditation despite a long history of incidents which demonstrated “systemic failures” that had to be urgently addressed.
“Alarmingly the committee said it cannot be confident that there are not other aged care facilities where abuse and neglect are occurring elsewhere in Australia,” he said.
The Senate committee’s interim report, alongside the findings from the recent Carnell Paterson and Tune reviews highlighted the need for “urgent action to tighten accreditation requirements and change how residential aged care is regulated in Australia,” Mr Yates said.
Agency’s role in focus
Provider peak Aged and Community Services Australia urged the Senate committee to “closely consider the role of the quality agency in upholding the standards the community expects in aged care.”
ACSA chief executive Pat Sparrow said the comprehensive account of the failures of care at Oakden identified in the report underscore the importance of having an accreditation system that works for the protection of older Australians in aged care.
“It’s vital that those receiving and providing care are supported by firm but fair regulation that protects those principles, as well as identifying and punishing abuse and neglect where they occur.
“The community, and the industry, relies on the proper functioning of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency for the upkeep of those standards, and we urge the review to continue to look into the efficacy of the agency in this role.”
While an aged care provider is at fault when care standards are poor, the role of the agency is to identify and address this for the residents, the community and the industry, she said.
“This report identifies numerous failures in the role. These must be addressed to ensure the community, and the sector, can continue to have confidence in the agency’s role upholding safety and quality for all those relying on aged care,” Ms Sparrow said.
Similarly, fellow provider peak Leading Age Services Australia said the report “calls into question” the roles played by the aged care quality regulator as well as the relevant South Australian agencies.
“This also gives rise to concerns regarding the regulator’s ability to effectively apply the aged care system’s quality and oversight frameworks more broadly, which the committee has said will be further investigated,” said LASA chief Sean Rooney.
“Age services providers, government and the community all share a desire for a high-performing aged care sector. The concerns identified in the interim report must be addressed in order to retain the confidence across older Australians, their families, providers of age services and the wider community,” Mr Rooney said.
RELATED COVERAGE: Senate backs call for overhaul of aged care oversight