RACGP welcomes Federal Government’s royal commission into aged care

Paul Hayes

17/09/2018 12:26:05 PM

RACGP President-elect Dr Harry Nespolon has called for ‘real action’ to ensure GPs can provide vulnerable patients with the best possible care.

The Federal Government’s royal commission into aged care comes in the wake of poor standards of care, physical assaults and challenging working conditions throughout the sector.
The Federal Government’s royal commission into aged care comes in the wake of poor standards of care, physical assaults and challenging working conditions throughout the sector.

The royal commission is designed to shine a light on ‘appalling’ cases of mistreatment and neglect throughout the sector.
‘Incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused. We must be assured about how widespread these cases are,’ Prime Minister Morrison said when announcing the royal commission.
‘This royal commission will be about proactively determining what we need to do in the future to ensure [community] expectations can be met.’
RACGP President-elect Dr Harry Nespolon has welcomed the commitment to restore trust in aged care. He said GPs have long been concerned over conditions in the sector and has called for ‘real action’ to ensure the delivery of quality care.
‘For a long time, GPs have been concerned with the lack of investment and the inadequate staffing levels within residential aged care facilities,’ Dr Nespolon told newsGP.
‘Due to inconsistent staffing and investment, some medical practitioners have been … placed in a position where they cannot provide the best possible care to their patients.
‘This review provides an opportunity to genuinely improve healthcare services for some of Australia’s most vulnerable patients.’

Royal-commission-2-hero.jpgPrime Minister Morrison announced the royal commission alongside Minister for Health Greg Hunt (left) and Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt (right). (Image: Mick Tsikas)
The Government inquiry will primarily examine residential aged care facilities and home care services, but will also look at the care provided to young people with disabilities who live in aged care homes.
The royal commission comes in the wake of serious issues that have plagued the aged care sector, including poor standards of care, physical assaults and extremely challenging working conditions. In particular, last year’s revelations of abuse, neglect and mistreatment at a mental health care service in Oakden, South Australia, sent shockwaves that served to greatly undermine trust in the care being provided.

According to Prime Minister Morrison, the Department of Health has closed almost one aged care service per month since Oakden, with ‘an increasing number under sanction to improve their care’. He said he anticipates some confronting stories to emerge from the Government’s inquiry.
‘I think we should brace ourselves for some pretty bruising information about the way our loved ones, some of them, have experienced some real mistreatment,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘And I think that’s going to be tough for us all to deal with. But you can’t walk past it.’
The RACGP said it will work closely with the Government to ensure GPs’ voices are heard and effective action is taken.
‘In a report the RACGP will release this week, aged care will be noted as a major concern for GPs, with 26% of those surveyed calling for the Government to prioritise aged care in the future development of health policy,’ Dr Nespolon said.
‘As Australia ages, we must make sure as a health sector we are ready for the extra demand, and I am hopeful that this commitment is the first step to doing just that.’
News of the royal commission comes within a week of the Government announcing new aged care standards and a funding boost of $106 million, including $16 million to help its Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission ‘police quality, boost specialist response teams for complaints, audits and compliance, and support consumers when failures occur’.
The Federal Opposition has voiced it support of the royal commission.
‘I welcome an overdue look at the aged care sector in Australia,’ Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said.
According to the Government, the royal commission into aged care is expected to cover:

  • the quality of care provided to older Australians, and the extent of substandard care
  • the challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities
  • the challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age
  • the future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia
  • any other matters considered necessary.
‘The evidence shows that the problems are not restricted to any one part of the aged care sector,
whether it is for profit or not for profit, large or small facilities, regional or major metropolitan,’ Prime Minister Morrison said. ‘The royal commission will look at the sector as a whole, without bias or prejudice.
‘Australians must be able to trust that their loved ones will be cared for appropriately and the
community should have confidence in the system.’

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Gwatkin N Ratnam   18/09/2018 8:14:01 AM

Aged Care is a complex problem. The family places someone in the aged care because they could not cope with the demand at home one on one. They expect that this would be done in the aged care and think paying the aged care is all what is needed. But for approximately $50 per day who can hire one on one care including food and lodging? My suggestion is that whoever who investigates to go and work in the aged care as a carer for a week with the complex needs of individuals. The staff turn over is high in the aged care and those who are in charge of the aged care facilties leave the jobs due to the pressure from paper work and staff shortage. The abuse we see could be due to overwork and frustration. The staff should be trained to appreciate individuals and their worth. Pumping funds into aged care will not solve the problem as this will become a lucrative buisness. It is a team effort and this should include the family, staff and doctors. The centre of attention is the welfare of the elderly citizen who had worked hard in their own way in the past. Let us care for these people at their last stop before their destination as a team and not warring factions. By the way we are going to end up there if we survive long enough

Sally Anne sutton   13/11/2018 10:31:24 PM

I wish to report or encourage the investigation into my fathers death. I tried numerous times to have better care and the private facility classified low care kept saying they could care for my father. I complained after 3 major accidents and nothing was done as I had no medical power of attorney. I was even threatened by the home. I wish to enlighten.