Aged Care: It’s Time for a Royal Commission

Article published 22 June 2018

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Time has come

It’s time for a royal commission when nursing homes think reporting serious incidents of assaults, cruelty and neglect is too much effort.

A major aged care provider claims it’s not keen on mandatory reporting of serious incidents because it’s ‘too much paperwork’.

The provider stated that mandatory reporting would ‘generate additional paper trails’ that would occupy staff time. Tellingly, the same provider thinks that quality in aged care mustn’t be solely linked to eliminating risk or the absence of incidents, as this isn’t attainable.

The current reporting rules recorded 2853 reported assaults against elderly residents last year.

But there’s likely to be many more which don’t get reported. With the current rules, if the perpetrator has a ‘mental impairment’ such as residents that suffer from dementia, the incident does not need to be reported.

The Aged Care Minister has warned that he is considering making aged care homes report all incidents including assaults, cruelty, unexplained serious injury and neglect.

Mandatory reporting of all abuse was recommended in the Australian Government’s recent review of aged care regulation and by the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Stricter rules and regulations for aged care providers are increasingly important as delivering quality care takes a back seat to making profit.

Reports have recently emerged that a different aged care provider has ordered their care workers to not check on residents at night. The provider decided that residents falling out of bed or experiencing respiratory issues is not a valid reason to invade resident privacy.

Advocates believe that this is just another money saving tactic to avoid employing more night staff.

Prioritising the minimising of paperwork and night time staff over the safety of residents is totally unacceptable. More and more people are catching on to the fact that nursing homes need to clean up their act.

The ABC conducted an investigation into nursing homes which drew almost 4,000 responses from the public. The responses detailed abuse, malnutrition and neglect.

They planned to find out if the issues in aged care homes were just a few bad apples or if there is a systemic problem inside the aged care industry.

And this is what the ABC found: ‘The crisis in aged care is real’.

It’s time the Australian Government took the systemic nature of abuse in aged care seriously. Bring on a royal commission into aged care.

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