The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will hold special hearings into the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19, but it will not investigate the situation in Victoria in order to avoid creating an unnecessary distraction while the crisis is still underway.
The hearings will be held from 10 to 13 August 2020.
The royal commission will look into the ways that Sydney nursing homes, including Newmarch House, Dorothy Henderson Lodge and Opal Care Bankstown, responded to the crisis, and what more could have been done to support them.
The purpose of the inquiry will not be to find fault or lay blame, the royal commission said in a statement today.
Commissioners closely monitoring Victorian situation
“Commissioners and staff of the royal commission are monitoring closely the outbreak in Victoria and, in particular, how it affects people receiving aged care services and their loved ones,” the statement said.
“While the upcoming hearing will include an examination of whether there have been systemic failures and the sector’s preparedness for the unfolding crisis in Australia, the focus of the hearing will not be specifically on the Victorian response to the pandemic.”
“To focus their inquiry on the Victorian response at this time would unnecessarily distract the state, affected aged care providers, and those working within affected aged care services and in aged care across Victoria more generally,” they said.
“Such a focus would cause unnecessary additional stress and distress for those grieving the loss of loved ones and those concerned for the wellbeing of others.”
The royal commission’s hearing will focus on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in aged care, and what can be learned from the experience in order to better prepare for any future outbreaks of infectious disease or emergencies.
The royal commission will look into:
- the roles of state, territory and federal governments in responding to crises,
- what should be done and by whom during pandemics, infectious disease outbreaks or other emergencies,
- balancing the risks posed by pandemics or infectious disease outbreaks with maintaining the health and wellbeing of aged care recipients,
- the transportation of infected residents to hospital, and
- the workforce and PPE challenges faced by the aged care sector during the pandemic.
The hearings will be conducted online, but will be live streamed on the royal commission’s website. Transcripts will also be made available after each hearing.