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Providers encouraged to focus on how they interact with aged care recipients


A change in attitude towards older people is needed to improve care quality, not just additional resources, the aged care minister tells an industry conference.  

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Richard Colbeck said it was confronting to see the poor treatment of older people highlighted in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report.

“Under the current system with older people, we bracket them off into the aged care system which might I say, apart from prisoners, is the only institutionalised system we have left,” Mr Colbeck told the Future of Aged Care: Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission conference on Wednesday.

He said both the aged care industry and the public need to change their attitudes about how older people are seen and treated.

Richard Colbeck

“We really need to think about the way we are interacting with the people we are providing care to and look at it from their perspective rather than from the fact that we are running a business, which is what we are doing. But it is service provision that is important,” Mr Colbeck said.

He said the feedback he generally received was about a need for more funding.

“It doesn’t say to me that there is a mood within the sector for reform or that we have to change… or we have to look at the way we are operating,” Mr Colbeck said.

“The response from the sector can’t just be give us a bit more money and everything will be fine,” he said.

However, he said “there is no doubt” resourcing will be addressed in the royal commission’s final report.

Addressing inadequate care

Mr Colbeck said aged care royal commissioner Lynelle Briggs told him that at least 12 to 15 per cent of care across the aged care system was inadequate, and that it may be as high as 20-30 per cent.

Mr Colbeck said the final analysis regarding the level of inadequate care will be in the royal commission’s final report.

“We can’t afford to get 20-30 per cent in the royal commission final report..,” he said.

“That’s going to be pretty confronting if that’s what comes back in 12 months time,” Mr Colbeck said.

Following Mr Colbeck’s address at the conference, Aged Care Sector Committee chair David Tune told delegates these levels of inadequate care indicated systemic issues in the sector.

“I don’t believe that aged care providers out there or people in the sector are all that bad. There are some bad apples, there is no doubt about that and there is some poor quality.

“But the fact that we got 10, 15, and up to 30 per cent of poor quality of care means we have systemic issues going on here,” Mr Tune said.

“Even if its 10 or 7 per cent, there is something going on there,” he said.

David Tune

The nature of aged care residents including going into care later in life, staying for a shorter period and often dying in care, is having an effect on quality, said Mr Tune, who led the Aged Care Sector Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

“There is increasing incidents of dementia that we all know is impacting on behaviours, that’s changing the … resident mix inside residential care in particular, and that’s making it more difficult to provide high quality care. It’s not impossible, I’m not making excuses at all, but it makes it more difficult that’s all I’m going to say.”

Mr Tune said competition for workers is contributing to longstanding aged care workforce issues.

“You have increasing competition going on in the sector and rapid expansion of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, for example, which is looking at building up a workforce very similar to the workforce that is provided through aged care, particularly the personal worker care side of things,” Mr Tune said.

He said low rates of pay remain a key part of the aged care workforce issue.

The Future of Aged Care: Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission conference took place in Melbourne on 20 – 21 November.

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4 Responses to Providers encouraged to focus on how they interact with aged care recipients

  1. Val Fell November 23, 2019 at 12:28 am #

    There will not be many changes in the aged care SECTOR unless the culture of the SECTOR changes. It should adopt a CARING profile and discard the notion of being an UNDUSTRY. An industry is an organisation which runs a business defined by financial transactions.Human beings are not commodities. When financial decisions are made at board level it is hoped that those making the decisions will not only ” consider the bottom line”. but take into account the impact on the quality of life of residents. Of course to do this board members must have some knowledge 0f dementia and the principles of supportive care.

  2. Louise M November 23, 2019 at 2:23 pm #

    Once again they refuse to address the elephant in the room – ratio’s. Poor PCA’s / Nurses and Lifestyle staff are run off their feet. We would love nothing more than to be able to sit with a few of the people we care for to have a cuppa with them, you cannot beat just being with someone, holding a hand when someone is in distress, taking time to support a person to have a shower or going to the toilet, going for a walk together, gardening together, singing together – get it? TOGETHERNESS. This is what can assist and support people living with Dementia and Behaviours.
    This is impossible to happen if you have 2 PCA’s to 14+ people to shower, toilet, get ready for breakfast. But this continues for the length of the day.
    There are alot more people working in the industry that do care, but are pushed to get things done in impossible timelines. Then there is the paperwork too.
    There are groups out there that are still reducing staffing levels and letting go of Lifestyle staff expecting PCA to fill the void (bare in mind a Lifestyle Certificate IV is 12 months training as against PCA training can be anything from 6-8 weeks training – not taking anything away from the respect I have for PCA’s). If you are not trained then what quality do you expect within the industry. There are wonderful groups doing wonderful things – how can you tell them apart though?

  3. Louise M November 23, 2019 at 2:27 pm #

    And if we get on the subject of Lifestyle Staff – x1 person to 100 people – tell me what type of therapeutic programs can be implement. 90% of Lifestyle division received no funding from the Group they work for. Lifestyle approach and its benefits is very well documented and has benefits of reducing the use of Psychotropic drugs – but a lifestyle approach is not funded at all, comes from the profit margin of organisations who in turn do not invest in this part of their business. The reporting, plans, assessments, evaluations – are as much as nursing staff and is scrutinised by the Quality Agency. However – groups who have diminished the Lifestyle part in their businesses are never taken to task via the Quality Agency. Why?

  4. Anton Hutchinson November 25, 2019 at 2:38 pm #

    Isnt it typical for the Minister to try and further denigrate aged care by lumping it in with prisons. The Minister needs to remember that this system is the system devised and set up by Governments. Typically, as a Minister strenuously trying to avoid the issue of a serious funding crisis will want to talk about care shortcomings.

    The 15% number of “substandard Care” needs to be examined. When completing the submission to the Royal Commission about the lst five years complaints it was very difficult to not qualify as sub standard care as the questions were posed to make the industry look worse than it is.
    Im not denying that there is an element of atrocious operations but i dont believe its anything like the number reported.

    Mr Colbeck saying that the industry is calling for more money, yes they are. This is because successive federal liberal governments have slashed the funding to residential care and transferred this to Home and NDIS.

    Example…. A nursing home resident (under 65) with Parkinsons disease in full time care attracts about $65000… care, food, accommodation, laundry etc. Under the NDIS with support in a group home or private home will get about $325,000 per year, and you still need your bills paid on top.

    The Minister goes on to say that people are going in to care later with significantly more challenging conditions, but the funding doesn’t recognise this… and that “they often die there” Really? The vast majority of people die eventually in nursing homes..thats what they were set up to accommodate and generally speaking palliative care is well managed.

    As to Home care, what a rort of tax payer dollars! When did it become societies responsibility to care for your parents at home? Where are these lazy arse families when they should be mowing the lawn or cleaning the grandparents house or doing the shopping. Lets also not forget that once home care has run its race you will be in a facility (if you dont die alone at home) to see out your days.

    LOUISE… I have no idea where you get your information, especially quoting things like 90% of lifestyle get no funding. Tell the people that this is the case where you obviously work but dont spread that lie as a common fact. It is not.
    There is a lot of talk about ratios, bring on ratios I say but it comes back to funding (not profit as there is no profit in most facilities for over three years) or the lack of.

    PCAs and AINs are suitably trained to administer the level of care required, the big factor is empathy and a TAFE course cant teach you that. Nurses are the best people in the world butits only been the last twenty odd years that they all learned their stripes on the floor with hands on training but now all of a sudden a university degree is required. Why? You dont need a degree to be a good mother!

    Minister Colbeck is trying to deflect the obvious and very apparent need to address the funding crisis. Back in May-July the government acknowledged the problem and upped the rate of subsidy by 9.5% for that short period, but post election was taken away.

    This is predominantly a Government problem, they made it and now they dont want to fix it because that will prove where the problem was all this time.

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