No leadership in aged care
Aged Care nurse Jocelyn Hofman criticises the lack of leadership from the Federal Government around aged care.
The corona-virus has cranked up the flaws of the aged care sector to deafening decibels so politicians in Canberra can now hear nurses and aged care workers’ cry for help – cries for help that had been ignored for almost a decade!
Professor Joseph Ibrahim, Head of the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University’s Forensic Medicine Department, told the Aged Care Royal Commission that he believes that Australia’s rate of COVID deaths in residential aged care is more than 68 per cent, the second highest in the world!
The aged care sector’s downward slide began when John Howard’s Coalition government implemented the Aged Care Act 1997, and the aged care sector was opened up for privatisation and deregulation.
“Cut red tape!” was, and still is, the government’s mantra.
“Cut red tape!” meant reduced government monitoring of what Commonwealth subsidies were being spent on, which resulted in a reduction of nurses and qualified staff. It meant the standards of nutrition and clinical care for our vulnerable residents were not monitored. It meant poor and unreasonable working conditions and low wages for our aged care workers.
And it ends with a Royal Commission where we hear tragic stories of unnecessary suffering and preventable deaths of our vulnerable older Australians.
This Federal government had been very slow to act. There had been no national coordinating expertise for aged care in response to COVID since February of this year. The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre was only established in July 23, 2020.
Our prime minister, Scott Morrison, has refused to accept responsibility for the deadly outbreak of COVID–19 in the aged care sector despite the sector being regulated by the Federal government.
If a crisis is a test of character and leadership, then the COVID pandemic has revealed what kind of leaders we have in government.