Due to allegations of serious neglect and abuse of elderly people, the Government has initiated a Royal Commission into the aged care sector.
For Carers Queensland, acting as the voice of carers, this is a welcome opportunity to provide carer feedback of lived experience with the current system.
Carers are often viewed by aged care providers as nuisances or complainers but in fact are generally well-informed observers of the aged care program.
Having made the often heartbreaking decision to place a loved one in an aged care facility or to access home care, they are passionate about continuing to support the person they love whose care they now share with others.
Providers who engage positively with carers, access a source of inspiration and insight into the needs of care recipients and fierce supporters of organisations who get it right.
It’s heartening to see progressive providers fostering this ongoing engagement for the benefit of all.
It is critical that the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission are broad enough to encompass; the entire system residential and community based, including specialist programs for veterans and indigenous.
Yet they also need to be tightly focused on matters of the greatest importance; the quality of care delivered, the funding and regulation which underpinning this care and the sustainability of a high-quality program given the huge growth expected over the next 30 years.
A Royal Commission though an enquiry dwarfing all others, in terms of resources, legal power and community standing, is still the most recent in a long line of independent enquiries in which key recommendations including regular independent cost of care surveys to ensure funding is based on community expectations, have been ignored.
At the very least, it is hoped that this level of scrutiny will highlight the real reductions which have occurred over years of indexing care subsidies (taxpayer income for care of the elderly) at well below relevant costs – easily evidenced when compared to private health insurance and public hospital funding whose cost base includes many of the same drivers affecting aged care.
Let’s hope this time there is real change in the air.