An Open Letter to the Aged Care Workforce: The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP

An Open Letter to the Aged Care Workforce

I am writing this letter today to connect with each and every aged care worker and assure you all that the Government values the work you do to provide quality care for senior Australians in residential care and in homes all across Australia.

We know that there are instances of sub-standard care that need a fair, independent and thorough assessment – to honour and support every family that has engaged and trusted aged care services across our nation.

As a result, on 16 September, the Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced the Australian Government’s decision to ask the Governor General to establish a Royal Commission into the Aged Care Quality and Safety.

The broad focus of the Royal Commission will be to look at the quality of care provided in residential and in-home care services to senior Australians. It will also include young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.

We expect that it will cover:

  • The quality of care provided to older Australians, and the extent of substandard care;
  • The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;
  • The challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age;
  • The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia;
  • And other matters that the Royal Commission considers necessary.

I am confident that the aged care sector as a whole is committed to providing senior Australians with high quality care and services.

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 Telephone: (02) 6277 7720

As the Prime Minister has acknowledged, ‘There are thousands of extraordinary operators, facilities, care providers, nursing and other clinical staff, volunteers, cleaners, cooks, therapists out there improving the lives of senior Australians every day’. I have visited in excess of 100 aged care services and what I have seen in almost all cases is staff that are dedicated and committed to senior Australians.

You have much to be proud of in the support you provide senior Australians day in and day out. We all want aged care to be at its very best.

The Government is committed to implementing the reforms already announced and the Royal Commission will help us to determine what more may need to be done to prepare the aged care system for the increase in demand over the next decade.

The aged care workforce will play an important role throughout this process.

Further information about the Royal Commission is available on the Department of Heath website, where you can also subscribe for updates and provide input to the terms of reference, at https://agedcare.govcms.gov.au/announcement-of- royal-commission-into-aged-care-quality-and-safety

Yours sincerely

The Hon KEN WYATT AM, MP
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Minister for Indigenous Health

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  1. This is the same old story. Everyone has bright ideas for solving all the problems but seem to ignore the biggest issue and that is staffing. I no longer work in Aged care as I couldn’t cope with the continual negativity from carers (justified) and the ridiculous expectations from Management.

    Ideas are great but staff are needed to implement these ideas. Yes, we would like to do all the lovely things that is being suggested but are usually too busy caring for the elderly. Yes, that is what we do, contrary to what the media and Mr Wyatt are suggesting. We do it to our best ability under unreasonable working conditions.

    I can only speak from an aged care catering perspective and from noticing what the carers and nurses have to contend with on a daily basis.

    While I was an Aged Care Chef cooking for 60 residents on my own, I was expected to order food for the week, put away that weeks groceries (dairy, breads, meat, vegetables and dry goods), prepare (as in cut up for 60) fruit & vegetables, freshly bake morning tea or fruit patters for 60, cook lunch main meal (meat rice or potato & 2 veg), cook hot dessert with custard or cream or fresh fruit salad, freshly bake afternoon tea, make home made (oh yes) soup, cook the evening meal and dessert, oh and birthday cakes and make up fortified drinks etc etc etc in 7 1/2 hours each day for very little money. All the while catering for the different dietary needs as in allergies, intolerances, textures and preferences and sticking to a budget.

    To then have to put up with people making bright suggestions about making the meals more interesting or varied when there are not enough carers in the dining rooms to ensure certain residents are actually eating the meals or drinking their fluids. They are too busy caring for the residents by showering, dressing and toileting them etc so they often run behind schedule.

    Having 1 carer for 8 residents sounds manageable until its factored in, that many residents these days, as they are entering Aged care at a much older age, require 2 people to assist them at a time, which then in reality translates into a ratio of 1 carer to 16 residents. That’s 7 1/2 hours to care for 16 residents which means a carer has less than half and hour a day to wake up, toilet, shower, dress, assist to meals and activities, assist at meal times and change bedding, tidy rooms etc etc etc. So it’s no wonder they are sometimes behind schedule at meals times.

    From a Catering perspective, I do feel that I speak for every Cook or Chef who cares about the elderly. We do our very best and 99% of the time, provide a very decent meal for our elderly residents but it sometimes is too hard. Good luck to the Royal Commission. Please look at Industry through the eyes of the people who physically work in it, not through the eyes of some of the management sitting behind their computers miles away from the workforce and definitely not through the eyes of those who are financially profiting from the current situation.

  2. This Liberal government is a disgrace. $21 million dollars would provide more care right now. People who stick needles into strawberries get years in jail but corporate Aged Care providers get away with what can only be called criminal neglect. There is clearly one law for corporations and another law for everybody else. You have to ask yourself why a government would allow this to occur in the first place and why when presented with overwhelming evidence of criminal behaviour they have kicked the can down the road by holding a Royal Commission ?

  3. How about some letters and recognition of carers who look after their loved ones at home for nil or very little. Did they get a nice warm and fuzzy letter from you. We are keeping our loved ones out of Aged Care Facilities.

    Last nights program was revealing. It sad that the two carers were supported by the Judge who must be from another world. I will keep writing to you Minister through my local Minister and watching how you continue to handle all this.

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