“One of the sets of information I just could not get past was what was occurring in our residential aged care sector”. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today announced that his government will be launching a Royal Commission into the aged care sector.
Speaking to the media early this afternoon, PM Morrison spoke of his government’s growing concern regarding the management of residential aged care services and the quality of care of their residents.
The PM stated, “The work the Government has been doing, the unannounced visits and compliance audits, it has revealed a disturbing trend in what is happening in terms of non-compliance, abuses and failures of care that have been occurring across the sector.”
PM Morrison spoke into the concern as to how entrenched in the system evidences of neglect and mismanagement were, “How widespread is this? Does it touch on the whole sector”
“Until we have answers, Australians will be unsure…as a cabinet we decided it was necessary to move forward with a royal commission into the aged care sector”.
This announcement of a Royal Commission into the aged care sector comes just short of a year since South Australia’s Oakden nursing home was closed.
The instances of neglect and abuse at Oakden were blown by Bob Spriggs’ family after he was given ten times the amount of his prescribed medication and continued to exhibit severe injuries on his body up to and during the time of his death.
The instances of abuse and neglect were not limited to Bob Spriggs’ case.
The state’s Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Bruce Lander submitted a report damning the state of how many residential aged care facilities were operated.
The interim report stated, “Many subsequent instances of abuse and neglect occurred as a direct result of those with the oversight responsibility not acting earlier.”
Further statements, from both employees and family members, coming out of the Senate inquiry into the Oakden nursing home have spoken of a “toxic” culture of cover up. The Senate has been told that people who could have complained were intimidated.
The Royal Commission is set to investigate the quality of care in both private and government-run residential aged care homes.
The Australian Medical Association’s President, Dr. Tony Bartone stated, “The AMA has long called for reform of the aged care sector,”
“There is a serious lack of resources. There is a serious lack of staff. And there is a serious lack of coordination between all the sectors involved in caring for older Australians.
“We know that this Royal Commission will uncover uncomfortable and distressing stories, and systemic failures.”
While many residential aged care facilities are doing exemplary work in carrying out their duties in utter accordance with standards and going the extra mile, when it comes to caring and protecting for our most vulnerable no measures should be withheld.
Even if there was only one instance of neglect and abuse, it is good, necessary and vital that all involved, from residential aged care home managers, to nurses, doctors, politicians and media come to the table to hear the voices of the most vulnerable and in need.
As Dr Bartone states, “The AMA hopes that the Royal Commission will give victims a voice, and lead to real reform of a sector that has been woefully neglected for decades.”
Arguably it has been a long time coming but now that the Royal Commission is here, it is time to investigate, uncover, listen and drastically set in measures to protect, heal and to care.