The findings of the Interim Report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have been received with a mixture of appreciation, horror and outrage.
Comprised of three volumes and totaling 792 pages between them,the state of Australia’s aged care is summarised by its title; ‘Neglect’.
Commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynell Briggs described the aged care industry as “a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation” with 6824 stories of neglect, abuse and deprivation received by the Commission to date.
Providers, consumers and their families took to Twitter to voice their reactions to the report:
Reading the interim report from the Aged Care Royal Commission is so depressing. Page 166 “ during 12 month period to June 2018 more than 16,000 people died waiting for a (Home Care) package” That is appalling. #agedcare #agedcareRC @auspol
— Nerida Croker (@neridacroker) October 31, 2019
Neglect … it must stop in aged care. The title of today’s Interim Report from #AgedcareRC – “Neglect” encapsulates #agedcare in Australia. Unfortunately, it’s that simple – the history of aged care in Australia is a story of woeful & increasing neglect. https://t.co/IfA6xm0wLk
— ANMF – Australian Nursing Midwifery Federation (@anmf_federal) October 31, 2019
I literally can't read anymore. Im at snot stage with the tears . @richardmcolbeck @ScottMorrisonMP over to you and my god it better be quick and good.
Thank you @RoyalAged from the bottom of my heart and in my beautiful mum's memory 💓 #agedcareRC #agedcare #saparli
— Stewart Johnston (@Stewart17Oakden) October 31, 2019
But above all else is the demand for action and immediate change in a sector long overdue for reform:
Every day, every minute, every hour of governmental inaction on #agedcare consigns new families to a broken, neglectful, criminally negligent system.
— Sarah Holland-Batt (@the_shb) October 31, 2019
Now is the time for the Morrison Gov to step up and fix the broken Aged Care sector in this country. Older Australians deserve nothing less. #AgedCareRC interim report tells us nothing we didn’t already know. No more excuses #AgedCare #agedcareRC #politas #auspol
— Helen Polley (@polley_helen) October 31, 2019
How many years of investigations do we have to endure before we get some change? No political party has been brave enough to address #agedcare #auspol @richardmcolbeck @healthgovau @ScottMorrisonMP @SquigglyRick @ACSANational @LASANational https://t.co/2RHO9BdtiF
— ideal consultancy (@IdealGrp) October 31, 2019
Ian Yates, Chief Executive Officer of industry body COTA, added his voice to the chorus calling for immediate and drastic change.
“This cruel and harmful system must be changed. We owe it to our parents, our grandparents, our partners, our friends. We owe it to strangers. We owe it to future generations. Older people deserve so much more.”
Mr Yates said the neglect from federal government needs to end too, when it comes to budget decisions ahead of December’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and the Federal Budget next May.
“If the government is taking the Royal Commission seriously and is also serious about respecting the many people and experts who have given their time to the process so far, then they cannot ignore this report and must commit more funds in the forthcoming MYFEO.”
The report says the majority of issues brought to light over the past several months are reflective of systemic problems in the sector.
“While we have heard a number of examples of specific providers failing to meet existing standards, the problems in aged care are not just about a series of individual failures. The flaws of the aged care system as a whole are at the heart of this story.”
The interim report summarises the problems to include:
- Its design around transactions, rather than relationships or care
- The loss of voices of people receiving care and their loved ones
- The difficulty to navigate the system with little information for people to make choices about their care
- Its reliance on a regulatory model that does not provide transparency or incentive to improve
- A workforce that is under pressure, under-appreciated and lacking in key skills
“Australia’s aged care system has not kept pace with the expectations of care that can be provided in a modern, wealthy and compassionate society.”
The report highlighted three key areas where immediate action can be taken:
- Providing more Home Care Packages to reduce the extensive waiting list for higher level care at home
- Responding to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint
- Stopping the flow of younger people with a disability going into aged care, and speed up the process of removing young people who are already in aged care
“The Australian aged care system is failing and needs fundamental reform. The Royal Commission will recommend steps to achieve this transformation in our Final Report.”
The report states the Commission will continue working with older people and their loved ones as “their voices are fundamental to our ability to design a system that puts older people at the center of aged care services.”
The hearings for the remainder of 2019 will focus on:
- Provision of aged care in regional areas (the focus of the Mudgee Hearing commencing on 4 November 2019)
- Aged care operations of selected approved providers (the focus of the Hobart Hearing commencing 11 November 2019)
- Access and interface issues between aged care and health services (the focus of the Canberra hearing commencing 9 December 2019)
Next year examination will continue with a focus on “how to design a future aged care system that puts older people first. Some of the issues predicted to be explored include:
- the funding of aged care and the impact it has on how care is delivered
- integration and transition between different parts of the aged care system, including home, residential and respite care
- governance and accountability in aged care
- how to identify and encourage innovation and improvement in aged care
- models for the delivery aged care
- system architecture and design to support a good quality of life for people using aged care services
- how best to deliver aged care in a sustainable way.
A national summit later this month will provide the sector with an opportunity to examine the interim report’s findings and prepare for the upcoming changes. The Future of Aged Care- Beyond the Interim Report of the Royal Commission conference unpacks ongoing reform for aged care providers and will equip attendees with strategies to thrive in the evolving space.
The event is running from 19 – 21 November in Melbourne, find out more here.