The Aged Care Royal Commission has delivered a scathing indictment of Australia’s aged care system.
“Cruel and harmful”; “unkind and uncaring”; “a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation”.
This is what royal commissioners Richard Tracey* and Lynelle Briggs think of Australia’s aged care industry.
Their interim report released on 31 October describes aged care as “a shocking tale of neglect”.
It calls for a “fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care”.
It finds the aged care system “does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.”
It goes on: “This cruel and harmful system must be changed. We owe it to our parents, our grandparents, our partners, our friends.
“We owe it to strangers. We owe it to future generations. Older people deserve so much more.”
Aged care is “designed around transactions, not relationships or care” and “minimises the voices of people receiving care and their loved ones” the report says.
The workforce is “under-paid, undervalued and insufficiently trained”.
And the system’s regulatory model “does not provide transparency or an incentive to improve”.
The report calls for an immediate funding increase for high-need, in-home care recipients.
It also calls for urgent action on the use of chemical restraints in residential aged care and on getting 6000 young disabled people out of nursing homes as soon as possible.
Extract from the Royal Commission interim report:
“We have heard countless stories about how much people grieve for all they have lost when they arrive in residential care.
“They become ‘just a resident’, just another body to be washed, fed and mobilised, their value defined by the amount of funding they bring with them.
“They become infantilised, lose autonomy, and are prevented from making decisions or doing physical things that were routine when they lived at home, on the grounds that they ‘could hurt themselves’.
“They lose their basic rights to take risks, to choose what to do in their day, to live a life as close as possible to their previous home and community. There is no joy in this.”
*Commissioner Tracey died three weeks before the interim report’s release. He has been replaced by Tony Pagone QC.