Advocacy group welcomes broad approach to aged care inquiry

Advocacy group National Seniors Australia has welcomed the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and the commissioners appointed to lead the inquiry.

Acting CEO Professor John McCallum said today the terms of reference were sufficiently broad to capture the key issues of neglect and abuse that prompted the Royal Commission.

As well, National Seniors supported the inclusion of other issues such as funding, the increasing number of Australians living with dementia, and the critical role of the workforce in delivering high quality and safe aged care.

The commissioners – former Supreme Court of Western Australia judge Joseph McGrath and former Medicare Australia CEO Ms Lynelle Jann Briggs AO – were highly respected and well equipped to head the inquiry.

Prof. McCallum said it was clear the Royal Commission had a big job on its hands, given the timeframe for its final report was 30 April 2020.

“The commission will cover care for people in aged care facilities, in-home care services and care for young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care,” Prof. McCallum said.

“It will inquire into all forms of Commonwealth-funded aged care, wherever they are delivered. And it is required to determine the full extent of the problems in aged care and how best to ensure accessible, affordable and high quality aged care is provided now and in the future.

“It is also required to look at the causes of any systemic failures and the actions that should be taken in response.

“This is a comprehensive brief and one that will provide some challenges. But we believe it is achievable.

“We’ve had numerous inquiries into aged care previously. But now we have a Royal Commission and it’s vital the recommendations made provide the framework for an aged care system that will endure for not just a few years, but for decades.”

Prof. McCallum said National Seniors had received more than 40 submissions from members since the Royal Commission was announced. Many focussed on the need for more and better trained staff in residential care.

While the recent Aged Care Workforce Strategy should go some way to addressing this, it was essential the commission consider that many aged care staff had no dementia training, yet 50 per cent of aged care residents had dementia.

Prof. McCallum said National Seniors would be making a submission to the Royal Commission, highlighting these and other issues, based on its members’ feedback.

Interim CEO Professor John McCallum is available for comment.

Media contact: Lynda Schekoske (07) 3233 9134 or 0488 047 380.

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