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Kerryn Phelps outlines vision for home care


Independent candidate for the federal seat of Wentworth Kerryn Phelps has outlined her vision for aged care at an industry conference, saying the major parties have been “alarmingly” silent on issues including home care waiting lists.

“Both parties have said very little about (aged care) during their campaigns and this is alarming because we’ve heard nothing about what’s happening to the nearly 130,000 people on the home care waiting list,” she told a Leading Age Services Australia conference in Sydney Monday.

The former AMA president and high profile candidate for former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s seat revealed that her son is an aged care worker who experienced first hand the difficulties besetting the industry.

“My son is an aged care worker and .. . he says he finds it really frustrating, because one of the reasons that he works in aged care is that he really does actually have a passion for the work and he’s been doing it ever since he left school ”, she told the LASA NSW conference on Monday.

Need for vision and commitment

Dr Phelps said older Australians were entitled to vision and commitment from the next government, and had the right to know where the parties stood on aged care before they headed to the ballot box.

“We’re not getting that,” she said. “Again, it seems that our older Australians have been forgotten and pushed off into the distance awaiting the results of an aged care Royal Commission.”

She said around 500 older Australians turn 80 – the average age for entry into home care – every week. By 2027 that figure would be 1,500 a week, she said.

Dr Phelps laid out a four point vision for aged care including improved home and community care and legislated maximum home care waiting times.

“Improving home-based and community care support is vital to reducing the increasing need for people to access costly actute care and residential care facilities,” she said.”

“I believe that legislation is required to reduce home care package waiting times to no more than three months from the time of assessment to the time an older Australian receives support in their home.”

Training the next generation of doctors in aged care

Dr Phelps said she also wanted to see medical training places in residential facilities to expose medical students and registrars to aged care  and improve the quality of aged care and services in the general community.

She said there was also a need for a greater focus on reablement and aged mental health.

Dr Phelps said like many other people she was relieved when she heard there would be a Royal Commission into the aged care sector.

“My hope is that this wasn’t just a way of kicking the problems down into the long grass until after the next election,” she said. “My real hope is that this can be an absolutely once in a generation opportunity to get it right.”

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2 Responses to Kerryn Phelps outlines vision for home care

  1. Will Sullivan May 8, 2019 at 4:48 pm #

    My brother has been waiting for a Level 4 package for 2 years and 8 months (with 1-3 months still to go). Would political commentators please stop citing the Departments bogus claim that “some wait times have been up to two years”. When I went to school 2 years and 8 months plus 1-3 months is a lot closer to 3 years than 2 years. But we’ll never really know because the department doesn’t publish maximum actual wait times. And the commissioners and counsel have failed to draw out this critical statistic.

  2. Community Nurse May 9, 2019 at 3:58 pm #

    As a Doctor I would have expected more from Dr Phelps, I see so many older Australians living with chronic pain which incapacitates them and prevents them living fulfilling lives. Drs like Dr Phelps refuse to provide them with adequate pain relief in case they become ‘addicted’.
    I have recently been working with a lady who for years had chronic pain which severely limited her ability to tend her garden which was the joy of her life.
    A few months ago she was diagnosed with a treatable cancer, suddenly pain relief is an issue which is assessed and treated and now she is pain free for the first time in years. Her question to me was “why did I have to wait until I got cancer to get proper pain relief”. She is now back in her garden where she loves to be.
    Dr Phelps if people could have the pain relief they need many of them would not need Aged Care Packages or Aged Care beds. And as this lady said if I die an addict I don’t care as long as I am pain free.

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