BEGGING TO DIFFER: Aged Care Royal Commission Nails It

Article published 22 November 2019

BEGGING TO DIFFER: Aged Care Royal Commission Nails It

CPSA is very pleased with the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report entitled Neglect. The report is forthright and absolutely clear about the state of aged care in Australia.

One passage in the report stands out:

The Secretary of the Australian Department of Health told the Royal Commission that ‘based on the evidence and information available to the Department…serious instances of substandard care do not appear to be widespread or frequent’. We beg to differ.

The view expressed by the Department’s Secretary (who is the boss of the Department) is the one-bad-apple-can-spoil-the-barrel view. It was shared, and probably still is shared, by aged care providers. It was trotted out whenever a scandal broke.

CPSA has begged to differ with that view of Australian aged care, vocally and for a long time. CPSA is an advocacy organisation and will continue to represent the interests of people in aged care into the future without cosying up to the Department of Health and the aged care industry.

The Aged Care Royal Commission has another year to run. It will deliver its final report in November 2020. It is then that people depending on aged care will need strong representation of their interests as the aged care industry starts to lobby as hard as it can against mandatory staff-to-residents ratios and the imposition of aged care quality indicators.

In many ways, the hard work in aged care for advocacy organisations will start once the Aged Care Royal Commission has delivered its final report.

At the moment, every aged care provider under the Australian sun is ‘welcoming’ the Royal Commission’s interim report and no doubt every provider will be ‘welcoming’ the final report. But their hearts and wallets speak a less welcoming language.

Currently the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) is turning up non-compliances at nursing homes as if it’s shooting fish in a barrel.

But wait until public attention wanes once the Royal Commission wraps up. The ACQSC’s performance will inevitably slide, as it has to work with aged care quality standards that you can drive a truck through. These standards are open to interpretation and the interpretation will grow laxer and laxer once the Royal Commission has packed up and aged care provider lobbyists start applying the pressure.

It is then that the advocacy organisations which have the best interests of people receiving aged care at heart need to stand up and be counted.

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