Aged care ‘is a shocking tale of neglect’

Australia’s aged care system is a shocking tale of neglect, royal commissioners say.

The aged care royal commissioners say aged care services are underfunded, mostly poorly managed and all too often unsafe and seemingly uncaring.

They want urgent action to provide more support to allow older Australians to remain in their homes, address the over-use of chemical restraints in aged care and stop younger people with disabilities being stuck in aged care.

The commission’s interim report released on Thursday found the system fails to meet the needs of older, and often very vulnerable, people.

The commissioners said the system does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care for older people, and is unkind and uncaring towards them.

“It is a shocking tale of neglect,” commissioners Richard Tracey – who died earlier this month – and Lynelle Briggs wrote.

The system is woefully inadequate, they said.

“The neglect that we have found in this royal commission to date is far from the best that can be done.

“Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

The commission plans to recommend a fundamental overhaul of the aged care system in its final report.

Stakeholders have repeatedly called for significant increases in government funding to address the problems in the sector, without waiting for the final report in November 2020.

The commissioners said short-term solutions at best temporarily stave off the worst problems and, at worst, produce another set of unintended outcomes requiring further inquiries and reviews and further injections of public funds, without addressing the underlying causal factors.

“These limited interventions are not enough to deliver an aged care system that meets the needs of older people.”

However, it said there was no reason to delay action in reducing the waiting list for home care packages, responding to the over-reliance on chemical restraints and stopping the flow of younger people with disability going into aged care.

© AAP 2019