Aug 27, 2017

Grass roots advocates join forces in call for Aged Care Royal Commission

A coalition of grass roots aged care advocates representing thousands of concerned citizens across Australia have joined forces to call for a Royal Commission into residential Aged Care.

Action of Elderly Abuse Now group spokesperson Charli Maree Darragh, whose mother was murdered in a residential aged care facility in 2014, said the ABC 7.30 report’s recent two part expose of horrific examples of poor care and standards in accredited aged care facilities, had promoted advocates to take action.

“Since the murder of my mother in 2014, the residential aged care system has got worse. Every day, I and many others receive emails from frustrated families, relatives and aged care staff too scared to speak out, highlighting shocking examples of poor care and reports of nursing staff numbers being slashed,” Ms Darragh said.

“The official figures back up what the community is telling us. Reportable assaults in aged care facilities have increased for the past three years. The last publicly available report released by the Federal Government in 2015/16, showed that nearly 3,000 aged care residents were victims of reportable assaults.”

“What is no coincidence is the increase in reportable assaults and media reports of deaths and neglect of residents in aged care follows years of aged care operators reducing nurse to patient ratios and a systematic dismantling of the nursing profession by governments and aged care operators focussed on saving dollars rather than saving resident’s lives.”

The grass roots coalition said the fact there were three or four reviews of aged care currently taking place, highlighted the system was in chaos.

“We’ve seen review after review take place for a number of years. Nothing changes. Only a Royal Commission will give aged care residents, families, relatives, aged carers, whistleblowers and nursing staff the opportunity to tell it like it is without fear or favour. Only then will we uncover the levels of abuse and poor care that is taking place and highlight what needs to change.”

Ms Darragh said the grass roots coalition hoped a Royal Commission would:

  • Be a chance for residents and their families to tell their stories and have major systemic change take place.
  • Recommend changes to facilitate better care standards including a mandated increase in nurse to patient ratios.
  • Restore nursing to its former pre-eminent position as a valued profession so that the best and most caring people are attracted to aged care nursing as a career and paid accordingly.
  • Lead to a complete overhaul of the ‘tick the box’ aged care accreditation scheme and an increase in random inspections of aged care facilities.
  • Fully investigate the use of CCTV in aged care facilities as a safety and security measure.
  • Insist on mandatory police checks of all aged care staff.

The Action of Elderly Abuse Now group and includes advocacy groups Angels for the Elderly Foundation, Bill’s Advocacy for Aged Care, Greysafe, The Rejoice and Reclaim Connection, Dementia is not a sentence it is a word, Lucy’s Legacy, Legacy for the Elderly, Age Care Watch, AAP: Age Pension Power, People’s Commission into Age Care Australia.

“We are ramping up support for the Royal Commission and have been in contact with close to 100,000 people who are either members of our advocacy groups or supporters of our petitions on change.org,” Ms Darragh said.

“We will be asking concerned Australians to lobby their local member to call on the Prime Minister to initiate a Royal Commission and will consider running a marginal seat campaign at the next Federal election should calls for a Royal Commission go unheeded.”

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  1. Residential Aged Care (or any aged care) should not be “for profit”. People entering residential aged care should have availability of appropriate staffing to ensure their needs are met within a reasonable timeframe, assistance with feeding, a pleasant environment, heating/cooling, a variety of useful and fulfilling activities. Access to continence aids (according to assessed level of care). Companies seem to keep tabs on income, but are not so astute with appropriate costs – dressings, physiotherapy, wound treatment, continence aids, etc. Funding for staff to come in out of hours for essential and up to date training. Plus much, much more. There should be a limit on the profit allowed to be acquired by any residential or community provider. As with the Person Centred Care model – residents/community aged care recipients should have individual budgets which are provided monthly and accurately reflect the actual cost (plus a % for the organisation). Although we need to keep in mind the funds kept by residential facilities which collect interest on the ingoing amount charged to the resident/family. So many changes need to be made.

  2. I was an aged care worker for 23 years up until 1 year ago when I lost my job. I approached management at my workplace with serious concerns about resident care, which was appalling, inadequate staffing levels and unskilled staff performing duties which placed residents and other staff in harms way. The working conditions for staff were and still are horrendous and resident care more often than not does not meet standards by a long shot. There were many days where residents weren’t attended to due to staff shortages and those staff who worked were under extreme pressure to complete care duties in a safe manner and within the guidelines of care standards. I was witness to residents being neglected in regards to personal care, emotional well being and just about every other aspect of their life and this is what I raised with management time and time again. Management claim they have an open door policy and staff can approach them without fear of repercussion, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Because I refused to stop causing unrest with my concerns management took me off the roster claiming there were no available shifts , ironic under the circumstances of acute staff shortages. I became a whistle blower, making it very public that care standards and staff treatment were at a dangerous level of non compliance with standards set out by the Aged care Act. I took legal action against my former employer, and as a result my nursing career is over, and I am no longer able to get work in the aged care sector which was my passion. I may not be able to work in the field again but my passion is still very much alive and for this reason I choose to continue to fight for the rights of the elderly living in residential care. It saddens me to know that the aged care sector is in such disarray and that the frail and most vulnerable members of our communities are living in sub standard conditions, something needs to be done now to rectify this and I support any measure taken to do so.

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