The aged care royal commission may well be a waste of taxpayers’ money in terms of bringing about real change, writes Mark Sheldon-Stemm.
Having observed the aged care royal commission output over almost two years, one must ask whether the commission will result in any tangible real changes to the way aged care will progress.
In discussions with many aged care providers there is now a view emerging that the royal commission has gone past its use by date.
Obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major distraction but it has yet again shows the government’s machine –for both the commonwealth and states – is far from well operated. As a result, providers have been left to sink or swim.
From my observations, the five main reasons many providers now think the royal commission has lost its relevance are:
- There is recognition that the royal commission was initially called as a political response to the ABC program on aged care. Therefore, it is impossible to separate the politics from the commission itself.
- The process of publicly purging those who have provided poor care has been achieved and providers are truly focused on overcoming the shortcomings identified.
- The royal commission seems determined not to listen to those who understand the aged care industry but rather rely on academic or so called expert advice from those who have never run an aged care service and who have little or no idea of the challenges faced by providers. So far, its recommendations are either impractical or irrelevant.
- The government direction in aged care has already been set out in the Aged Care Roadmap and everybody understands this is the direction the sector is headed.
- Finally, as Australia enters a recession, there is a realisation that the Government does not have the funds to meet the true cost of aged care. A higher level of contribution is required from those who access the services, and this must be fair and equitable. This is a political decision over which the royal commission has no control.
Obviously, the Government will receive the final report and consider the recommendations made by the royal commission.
Unfortunately, as we know after countless reviews and studies into aged care over the past 20 years, the royal commission’s final report will probably be bound into a set of nicely covered volumes and placed in the archive.
This begs the question: Will aged care profoundly change?
That is not up to the royal commission but truly lies in the hands of proactive aged care providers.
Mark Sheldon-Stemm is principal at Research Analytics.