The serious failings of our aged care system are in the spotlight again. Snap safety audits conducted by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are exposing failures in aged care facilities, including lapses in COVID-19 infection control. Facilities on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Townsville have failed to meet performance standards in recent quality audits.
What really concerns me is that we are still getting these results when, over the past 18 months, we’ve had a royal commission looking at the quality of care in our aged care system. You would think that by now all Queensland providers would have made changes needed and be passing quality audits with flying colours.
Of course, there are many providers delivering a quality aged care service but why are these failings still happening?
The reality is that ageing is not something we are comfortable dealing with. However, I think we all agree that urgent changes must be made to create an aged care system that our loved ones deserve, and one that we would expect for ourselves into the future.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is due to release its report with recommendations for reform on the 26th of February. It will then be up to the Australian Government to agree to support the recommendations both in principle and financially.
It’s important that we as a society stand up at this moment and demand that government take the action needed to make real and meaningful change.
As an advocacy organisation for users of aged care services, ADA Australia knows older people care about:
In their final submission, Counsel Assisting made 124 recommendations to the Royal Commission, but what do we need as a priority?
Mandating staff to client ratios and dedicated Care Managers should give providers greater capacity to provide choice, reliability and dignity, catering for residents’ individual needs and preferences. Currently the system relies heavily on family and friends to bridge this gap.
If aged care is to continue operating under a competitive market model, then older people and their families must have access to available information about the potential quality of a service, as a consumer of any service or product would expect.
Expansion of the Community Visitor Scheme to a proposed Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme will increase the number of external people entering into residential care and the homes of isolated older people living in the community, who can also be alert to issues.
Addressing the home care system issues alone would improve choice and quality of life for many older people. Clearing the 100,000 waiting list by December 2021 is a great start but this would also need older people to have access to support to help get a home care provider and plan in place.
This will underpin all reform and move the focus from the operations of aged care providers to the human experience of older people, and their rights, preferences and needs.
We cannot wait any longer. People are suffering every day. Now is the time to demand action for our older loved ones.