Election 2019: whatever happened to aged care?

It is extremely disappointing the major political parties have failed to commit extra funding to fix the aged care mess.

We have been telling all candidates in this election there is a dire need to commit to a better age care system across the board. Tripling the number of high-level aged care packages for vulnerable older Australians would be an excellent start, as well as publishing staff-patient ratios in aged-care homes and dementia-care training for all nursing home staff.

Royal Commission recommendations

While the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hasn’t yet released its findings, it has made it crystal clear what needs to be done in home care. It found home care needs a minimum of an extra $2 billion dollars a year.

Despite this, and with the election only days away, neither major party has yet committed to additional funding.

Older Australians can’t afford to wait for the Royal Commission’s recommendations. The commission has already identified what is wrong and action is required now.

Not enough votes

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke believes the parties don’t believe there are sufficient votes in aged care, and as a society we have little respect for the frail elderly.

He says this election campaign should be remembered for the disgraceful lack of policies and commitment to better aged care.

“It is very disappointing that people will protest on the streets when animals are being mistreated, but when our older Australians are suffering we tend to be silent,” he said.

“At last we have a royal commission into aged care running parallel with a federal election campaign, but we’re hearing next to nothing from the politicians on all sides.

“The royal commission was told 16,000 people died last year while waiting for a home-care package. My sister-in-law was one of them. My brother got a letter offering a package a year after she died of an incurable brain tumour,” Ian said.

In a damning description of the present system Senior counsel assisting the commission, Dr Tim McEvoy QC labelled waiting times for home care as “cruel, unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory.”

Part of the fix is for the next government to invest the $2 billion to $2.5 billion dollars annually in more home care packages as estimated by the Health Department in its submission to the Royal Commission.