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Aged care providers welcome Royal Commission


Aged care providers say they don’t fear scrutiny or accountability and have vowed to participate in the Royal Commission into the sector in the interests of a stronger and safer aged care system.

Greg Hunt (L), Scott Morrison (C) and Ken Wyatt (R)

Greg Hunt (L), Scott Morrison (C) and Ken Wyatt (R)

Prime minister Scott Morrison on Sunday announced the inquiry, saying a Royal Commission was needed to investigate what he called “a very disturbing trend” in terms of non-compliance, abuses and failures in care across the sector.

“When you’re confronted with that you ask a simple question,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“How widespread is this, how far does it go, does it touch on the whole sector?”

The inquiry will look at the quality of care in the residential and home care sectors, as well as care provided to young Australians with disabilities living in residential facilities.

Terms of reference

  • Quality of care provided to older Australians and extent of substandard care
  • Challenges of providing care to Australians with disabilities in residential aged care facilities
  • Needs of Australians with dementia
  • Future challenges in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia
  • Any other matters considered necessary

Industry reaction

Aged and Community Services Australia said while it believed the majority of care provided was of the highest quality, it supported the government’s decision to hold a Royal Commission.

“We are an industry committed to continuous improvement and addressing problems where they occur.  We believe there is no room in our community for poor or inattentive care and we have zero tolerance for criminal abuse, assault or negligence,” CEO Pat Sparrow said in a statement.

“The aged care sector does not fear scrutiny or accountability.  We have actively participated in multiple and substantial government-led inquiries and reviews over the years with the aim of improving and delivering quality aged care services.

Greg Hunt

“We will participate fully and transparently in the Royal Commission towards the same ends.”

Leading Age Services Australia also noted the 2017 Carnell-Paterson review had found a general high standard of residential care but acknowledged there had been “unacceptable” failures in the past.

An inquiry would improve the care provided by Australia’s 430,000 aged care workers and volunteers, CEO Sean Rooney said.

Aged Care Guild CEO Matthew Richter, whose members employ over 43,000 workers in more than 380 facilities across Australia, said safety and quality of care was non-negotiable.

“The Aged Care Guild hopes that a Royal Commission will stimulate action and contribute to a shift in Australian political and social ethos toward ageing,” Mr Richter said.

The consumer viewpoint

Consumer advocate COTA said it hoped the Royal Commission would be in addition to, rather than instead of, current moves to reform the system including the establishment of a quality and safety commission, more high level home care packages and moves to support and expand the aged care workforce.

“We know now that these changes need to happen, and the government should get on with them while the Royal Commission does its work to prepare for the future,” CEO Ian Yates said.

“These are urgent reforms that must still be implemented as a matter of urgency and cannot be delayed while we wait for outcomes of a Royal Commission that will run well into 2019.”

Staffing ratios

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, who regularly visits residential aged care facilities in Melbourne,  warned the Royal Commission would uncover “uncomfortable and distressing stories and systemic failure”.

Greg Hunt (L), Scott Morrison (C) and Ken Wyatt (R)

He said doctors were concerned about a lack of resources, staff and coordination between all the sectors involved in caring for older Australians.

The Australian Nurses Federation said a Royal Commission would do nothing to fix the aged care crisis unless the government introduced mandated staffing ratios.

“While the current aged care crisis clearly warrants a Royal Commission, we know what the problems are,” Federal Secretary Annie Butler said.

“It’s time to take action. Let’s start by introducing a safe staffing law.”

Labor said the Royal Commission was overdue.

“Labor will support a good examination of it, about you it has to be everything – staff, training, funding, and making sure that people get the care that they deserve,” opposition leader Bill Shorten told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

The announcement came ahead of today’s Four Corners investigation into aged care, which goes to air at 8.30pm.

What they said:

  • How widespread is this, how far does it go, does it touch on the whole sector? Until we can have clear answers on these questions I think Australians will be unsure – Scott Morrison
  • I hope that this Royal Commission looks at not just individual homes and how they’re treating people, but the fundamental, systemic problems – Bill Shorten
  • The aged care sector does not fear scrutiny or accountability.  We will participate fully and transparently in the Royal Commission towards the same ends – ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow.
  •  Many of the solutions to realise these outcomes are already on the table. Whilst the Royal Commission is underway we must press on with addressing key workforce and funding issues, and not lose sight of making the system better right now – LASA CEO Sean Rooney.
  • (There) are urgent reforms that must still be implemented as a matter of urgency and cannot be delayed while we wait for outcomes of a Royal Commission that will run well into 2019 – COTA CEO Ian Yates
  • The AMA hopes that the Royal Commission will … lead to real reform of a sector that has been woefully neglected for decades – AMA President Tony Bartone
  • (We) hope that a Royal Commission will stimulate action and contribute to a shift in Australian political and social ethos toward ageing – Aged Care Guild CEO Matthew Richter
  • While the current aged care crisis clearly warrants a Royal Commission, we know what the problems are … It’s time to take action. Let’s start by introducing a safe staffing law – ANMF federal secretary Annie Butler

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6 Responses to Aged care providers welcome Royal Commission

  1. Dave September 17, 2018 at 3:52 pm #

    The hypocrisy of these peak bodies is reprehensible.

    For years their submissions to successive inquiries have backed the current regulatory system, resisted further scrutiny and campaigned against staff ratios and 24/7 RN coverage.

    Move along, nothing to see her, just a few bad apples, world class aged care…..

    They’re running scared. They know what’s coming. Their submissions are all on public record. LASA, ACSA, and all the other acronyms will be called to answer.

    This what happens when all your aged care ‘experts’ have zero experience in direct care delivery.

  2. Irene September 17, 2018 at 9:06 pm #

    I am disgusted that aged care services in Australia are not caring appropriately for people in their facilities! It’s appalling, they are human beings. They give us their home and their pensions to be cared for and they are worse off than animals in a zoo!
    I will never put my parents in a nursing home. Never! I respect them too much. The standards are disgusting. I fell terrible for the people who live and those who work in them.

  3. Dotty September 18, 2018 at 8:51 am #

    The industry protects itself. Staff levels are too low, minimum training, workloads overwhelming, bullying and intimidation on all levels of staff.
    Supplies are always short and every pad etc used must be accounted for and staff abused if too many used (so residents suffer).

  4. Jule September 20, 2018 at 1:59 pm #

    I saw abuses when I was nursing. Reported them verbally in writing (10 to 15 year’s ago).
    They were handled in house and I had a lot of pressure not to put them in writing in the first place.

    I left nursing, it broke me.

    To say management didn’t not appreciate reporting was an understatement.

    Accreditation is a joke. We were coached into what to say to accreditors and extra staff was put on when they were there.

    Even “non for profit” places like church run facilities have HUGE profits. You have nursing staff now having to empty bins; sweep and mop
    kitchens, serving food, doing dishes, putting laundry through on top of nursing duties
    Guess where the time was taken from in order to save a buck for these facilites??? You guessed it THE RESIDENTS!

    . I was a well organised and extremely hard worker, but I still use to spend at least half and hour to an hour each day to make sure residents didn’t miss out on care.

    The standard of nurses or care staff they get has slowly degraded over time as well. Don’t get me wrong, there are many good nursing staff, but by god I’ve seen a handful of horrible excuses for human beings. Thank god for the secret cameras these days!

    I will be putting a submission in to this commission, but I don’t hold out much hope of change.

  5. Anonymous October 21, 2018 at 6:52 pm #

    For the past 12months plus I have had a relative in an aged care facility in Sth East Melbourne who has endured understaffing, average food and witnessed an incident with a resident by a care provider dragging her along the ground by her feet back to her room and then during investigation the care giver denied it. and ignoring my relatives account of the incident ( my relative has all their faculties) and I am sure that persons relatives were not notified even though there was an investigation by the facility management, food is very average- driver by cost – nutrition questionable. Many of the residence have dementia-so no voice and very little family visitation – so no support. Most recently after the Royal Commission had been announced Management of the facility assembly all staff. nurses, personal carers etc and told them not to speak to the media or their employment was at risk of termination and their name sullied within the industry to prevent them working at any other facility. A stand over tactic.

  6. Tony Schumacher-Jones October 24, 2018 at 10:27 am #

    “How widespread is this, how far does it go, does it touch on the whole sector? Until we can have clear answers on these questions I think Australians will be unsure – Scott Morrison”

    The PM’s comment, if true, is a frightening insight into the lack of leadership by the Australian government and so called aged care peak bodies.

    If the PM was not aware of what was going on in residential aged care then one might ask; what on earth have previous ministers of ageing been doing? What on earth has the Department been doing? Where have the peak bodies been – particularly Dementia Australia? Missing in action.

    Now these same peak bodies are all rushing to be on the right side of history; now they are all really concerned about recent reports. Disingenuous in the extreme!

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