Royal Commission into Aged Care

Recently Prime Minister, Scott Morrison announced a Royal Commission will take place into the Aged Care Sector. This has been triggered by a 177 per cent increase in the number of aged care homes where a serious risk to residents was identified in the last financial year, according to new government figures. There was a 292 per cent increase in the number of facilities that refused to comply with rules.

 

So, is there a crisis in the Aged Care Sector? Do we need to be concerned as to whether our loved ones are being well looked after when they are admitted into Residential Care?

 

Our experience over 13 years of assisting families with placement into Residential Care has been extremely positive. We consistently receive feedback from families as to how pleased they are with the quality of care being provided. On the rare occasions where issues have arisen, we have found that once these matters have been drawn to the attention of facility staff, appropriate action has been taken. There are now many facilities which are well appointed, with residents being able to access single rooms with ensuites, compared to shared rooms in the past. Facilities have adopted a different approach to the provision of care, focusing more and more on enhancing the quality of residents’ lifestyle during their time in care and placing an emphasis on the wants and needs of each individual resident.

 

Staff wage rates has been a longstanding issue, as has the staffing/resident ratios. Residential Care organisations have consistently argued that they should not be subjected to mandatory staffing levels, and that they should have the flexibility to adjust staffing numbers to adequately meet the care requirements of their residents, which may vary from time to time.

 

We have noticed the removal of the Dementia Supplement has adversely impacted on families wishing to place a family member in Residential Care. A person with Dementia may be ‘at risk’ living alone, but because they have few other health issues, have good mobility and are able to manage their care needs, ie; showering, dressing etc., they are now unattractive to Residential Care facilities, who receive minimal funding from the Government to look after these people.

 

The funding received by Residential Care facilities is determined by the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI). The Residential Care organisations have been complaining over the past 2-3 years that the Government has been squeezing them on ACFI, resulting in decreased funding.

 

On the other hand, the Government have focused on people being able to continue to live Independently in their own home through provision of Home Care Packages (HCP), and this is where there has been significant levels of increased funding. Unfortunately, there has also been a strong increase in demand for these packages and as a result, it can take 12 months or longer from when a person receives approval for a HCP until funding is provided. This is unsatisfactory.

 

As to whether we need a Royal Commission…… the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt has in the past argued that we have had numerous reviews completed into the Aged Care industry and that we don’t need any further reviews. The Government are progressively working through the outcomes of those reviews. Following the review of the Oakden Aged Care Facility the Government is legislating the establishment of a new independent Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission and also implementation of unannounced independent audits of Residential Care facilities.

 

In conclusion, our experience is that the Residential Care providers through which we have obtained placement for our clients throughout the Adelaide metropolitan area, offer a high standard of care, and we receive overwhelming feedback from families to support this conclusion. We are careful only to recommend facilities where we are confident a high quality of care will be provided. None the less we anticipate many harrowing cases will be presented to the Commission and we have no doubt some aged care organisations will be identified as needing to lift their standards.

 

Secondly, there are a growing number of people in Australia wishing to access aged care services, particularly as people become more aware there are services available. Given the debate about inadequate Government funding and budget constraints, it is possible that one of the recommendations of the Royal Commission is that people are going to be required to pay higher fees and charges to access these services.

 

Finally, a brief comment on the Four Corners program aired on Monday 17th September titled ‘Who Cares? (Part 1)’. We understand why the program has chosen only to highlight case studies that reflect extremely negatively on Residential Care, and has interviewed staff that reinforce this negativity. While we do not dispute that these cases are genuine, and that there are some providers that fall short of the care standards required, our observations, personal experience and feedback received from our clients, paints a different picture, and it is a shame that many facilities that provide a high standard of care may be tainted by this report, and in turn, people requiring Residential Care will be fearful of making this transition.

This article was written by Anthea and Andrew Boden, Anthea and Andrew are from Age Care Directions and offer a service where they sit down with the client and their family, if they wish, and discuss all their future care planning.

Should you wish to seek further information please do not hesitate to contact us (08) 8232 9498.

Source: www.agecaredirections.com.au reproduced with permission of age care directions.

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