A few weeks ago another horror story emerged of an Aged Care resident with an ulcer down to the bone due to inadequate care, in a facility which had failed multiple compliance testing and been allowed to continue operating. It’s over a year since the Aged Care Royal Commission made its report and this still goes on.
Last year the Federal Government responded to the Commission’s recommendations with a $5 billion yearly increase in Aged Care funding. Estimates of the cost of implementing the recommendations are at least $10 billion a year. One might call the response half-baked. This year the budget allocates just an extra $12.5 million/ year. The horror stories will continue as Aged Care remains grossly underfunded with minimal moves to improve governance and structure and implementation of standards. In addition, the lack of support of the Federal Government for a crucial wage rise case in the Fair Wage Commission suggests a callous disregard for the horror stories we have heard.
Underpaid undertrained staff cannot provide the necessary care. Doctors don’t want to go to Aged Care facilities because there is inadequate support for their work. Residents are sent to hospital unnecessarily or simply die undertreated because of inadequate staffing.
Labor has committed to registered nurses on site 24/7 if it wins office. It supports the application for wage rises. It supports an increase in care hours/resident. The Coalition does the latter but forgot to fund it in the recent budget and then criticised Labor for not detailing the funding source. The Greens want full implementation of the recommendations. Neither Labor nor the Coalition have committed to full implementation especially with respect to restructuring the system. Instead they are cherry picking the politically obvious ones.
Funding Aged Care reform is easy. The conspicuous wealth in this country is evident. Both major parties are committed to increasing the budget deficit with planned tax cuts which favour the wealthy. So why can’t we also increase the budget deficit or tax more to look after our elderly. These are the mothers, fathers, and grandparents who have built this country and who continue to lovingly give back to their children and grandchildren.
It’s all about priorities. The interim report from the Commission was titled Neglect. “When will the neglect end?” asks Dr Tim Woodruff.
Dr Tim Woodruff
Australian Health Care Reform Alliance