Aged care residents who complain fear retribution

National Seniors Australia says research it has just completed revealed people using aged care services feared retribution if they complained.

And some of those who worked in the sector were so scarred by their experiences they vowed never to go into aged care themselves.

The advocacy organisation’s Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the findings of the report, yet to be released, underscored the importance of the Royal Commission into aged care announced yesterday by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Mr Henschke said National Seniors supported the Royal Commission, which followed a string of reviews, inquiries, roadmaps and blueprints conducted by successive governments over 20 years.

Many positive initiatives had stemmed from these reviews, including the one-stop-shop Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission due to begin in January 2019, recent increased funding for home and residential care, improved consumer choice, and a workforce strategy.

However, the increasing numbers of care facilities failing review audits since the introduction of unannounced inspections showed chronic issues in the industry still needed to be addressed.

Thirty-eight facilities were currently non-compliant and another 16 had sanctions imposed and the number was growing after the introduction of unannounced accreditation inspections.

“The Prime Minister, relevant Ministers for Health and Aged Care, the Opposition, those who work in aged care and advise in this vital area, and the public, have all welcomed the Royal Commission,” Mr Henschke said.

“We do, too, and look forward to it being a thorough review that sets the system right.

“We know there are good as well as bad providers, but people are now fearful of going into care and for good reason.

“This is an issue that needs to be above politics because it affects all of us eventually.”

Mr Henschke said more than $17 billion of taxpayers’ money was spent each year on home and residential aged care, but a hundred thousand older Australians who wanted to stay at home couldn’t get the support they needed.

Successive governments had failed to ensure proper and rigorous governance of how funding was spent, with insufficient provision for adequate and skilled staff and training.

“We need a system that provides more and better care, and better training for those providing the care,” Mr Henschke said.

“Around one in two people who go into aged care today are living with dementia, yet there is no dementia training mandated for care workers.

“We hope this Royal Commission will set a course not just for the next four years for whoever wins the next election, but for the nation for the next 40 years.

“Above all, we hope it will create a proper regulatory and funding environment that will ensure good providers grow and are recognised while those unscrupulous providers who value profits over care will be exposed and forced out.”

Mr Henschke said National Seniors Australia would be making a submission to the Royal Commission based on its extensive research into home and residential aged care and its surveys of members.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke is available for comment.

Media contact: Lynda Schekoske (07) 3233 9106 or 0488 047 380.

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