Aug 21, 2020

Older citizens deserve the same rights as younger Australians

Peter Rosen QC, Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety presents as scathing in his criticism of the Government, the Department of Health, a range of Health Bodies and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Maybe now, the Federal Government will listen and address our Aged Care Industry Workforce issues, provide the injection of money required to our Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) and Home Care, the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well as the clarity of leadership regarding COVID-19 that has been sadly missing across Australia for weeks now. Our Industry’s leaders (the Peak Industry Bodies and Operators) have been raising these faults in the system regarding poor and inadequate payments to RACFs and Home Care and workforce matters for years and repeatedly on a daily basis over past months.

Supplies of PPE to RACFs have been non-existent from NSW Health (and other State Health Departments) or from the Commonwealth Department of Health (who has regulatory authority for RACFs) unless an RACF experiences cases of COVID-19 Positive when supplies and ‘surge staff’ (outside staff who don’t know our residents and some don’t have any experience of aged care) are being promised.  That’s some planning! Wait for COVID-19 to enter and then supply the PPE. Too late then, a 10 year old could tell you that! 

And how and why is it that the Commonwealth Department of Health and State Health Departments don’t know and have not asked RACFs and Home Care Operators how much PPE an Operator currently holds in stock? This is a remarkably quick exercise to conduct. 

Instead, the Government bodies have relinquished responsibility to conduct the most important ‘stocktake’ in modern history against an infectious disease and left Aged Care Operators, over 60% who are in financial distress to compete against each other in a scramble to PPE suppliers, some suppliers whom have engaged in profiteering during a crisis with higher pricing of PPE!

With hundreds of thousands of bureaucratic public servants sitting at home punching out directives and threats on their laptops to RACF Operators/Approved Providers, our managers and staff about what we should be doing and what will happen to us if we don’t do something in an ‘air of bullying’ and quite frankly unsupportive, unhelpful and often unclear or contradictory messages, it is not surprising that confusion reigns across so many parts of Australia!

Currently, I open my emails each day and throughout the day to directives and messages regarding COVID-19 from:

  • The Commonwealth Department of Health;
  • NSW Health;
  • The Prime Minister;
  • The Federal Minister of Health;
  • The Federal Minister of Ageing and Sport;
  • The Medial Advisor to the Federal Government;
  • The NSW Premier;
  • The NSW Minister of Health and Medical Research;
  • The Medical Advisor to the NSW Premier;
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC);
  • The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission;
  • The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety;
  • NSW Public Health Unit (PHU);
  • Northern Sydney Local Health District;
  • And thankfully to the Peak Industry Body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), of which our Company is a Member;
  • And perhaps a few more bodies which I have reasonably forgotten at time of writing.

Australia’s Peak Industry Bodies and Operators of RACFs have on so many occasions in past years and recently contacted and asked our residents’ relatives, staff Company Directors and Members, contractors and consultants who work to us and asked all Australians, to contact your local Councillors, State and Federal MPs to prioritise Aged Care with fair and appropriate payments, to support our Industry’s plans to improve our workforce and services and to cease treating our older Australians as ‘second class’ citizens by political and yes a Nation’s apathy in this matter. History shows us that bad things happen when good people stand idly by!

We did not need a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety if Government public servants and politicians had listened to what had to be changed and developed over decades, in my view. But we have it and our Industry looks forward to its contribution to recommend changes to the system.

But let me reassure you, the best Operators already have plans for what is needed and these have been shared with the relevant authorities. The very few  ‘bad apples’ that exist unfortunately in every aspect of life and across every profession are not supported or wanted in our Aged Care Industry and as Operators, we want them gone!

360,000 people employed in Aged Care across Australia offer services every hour, every day to 1.4 million older persons represent the delivery in the vast majority of situations, of the very finest of human and compassionate services to older Australians. 

As I keep saying to my colleagues at Allambie Heights Village Ltd. and at our Allambie Heights Village Residential Aged Care Facility, ‘we are experts’, we know what we are doing. We have the leadership and we will continue to lead, reassure and care confidently and professionally.

And we are a Residential Home, not a Residential Hospital. We are not Acute Care or Sub-Acute Care. We are a Residential Home!

When a resident is COVID-19 Positive, the best place for them is hospital where they will be looked after while we look after all other residents and our staff.

Let’s face it, through the work of Australia’s RACF Operators, managers and staff in protecting our residents over past months at our financial cost, we have provided the Government, its many Agencies and the hospitals, its managers, consultants, doctors and nurses with the time to organise themselves and to arrange all of the equipment including ventilators that are expected of an Acute Hospital. Time for them to now serve us and Australia’s older citizens who have the same human rights to receive hospital care as a younger Australian expects and receives.

To our COVID-19 Action Team at Allambie Heights Ltd., our modelling of COVID-19 Positive Drills have worked well and we move to extend this to larger numbers of staff in our preparations. Remember, many of us have ‘Outbreak’ experience over years of practice.  Well done to all Company Staff who are involved in refreshing PPE and Infection Control competencies on an ongoing basis under the direction, scrutiny and support of our great Registered Nurses.

Enjoy the above photo of our Residents having Morning Tea in the Sun on Thursday, 13 August 2020 representing our flexible, adaptable and compassionate approach during the Public Health Order implementation of ‘Restricted Access’.

‘Fortress Allambie’ made front page news on 14 August 2020 in the Manly Daily with the headline, ‘Not one cold in 135 days at aged care home with tough restrictions’. Our last photo taken on 3 August 2020 (attached) celebrated 125 days of no colds, no flu and no COVID-19. Hopefully, we can keep this amazing health metic going for as long as possible.

Onward with confidence, skill, professionalism and protection of our residents and staff.

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