Aged Care in CrisisNewsletter
Ged Kearney, Shadow Assistant Minister for Aged Care, joined me for a Q&A session on September 3.
So many of us have had family members affected by the poor quality of aged care. Sadly, some of the people who joined us in this webinar have lost family members to covid in the aged care sector, including Ged, who lost her father-in-law early in the pandemic.
The deaths of 665 people to COVID-19 in the aged care sector was an avoidable tragedy.
It’s clear that the Federal Government did not prepare or protect the aged care sector in the early phase of the pandemic, despite plenty of warning. Ged pointed out that there should have been a highly qualified surge workforce put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Staff needed more PPE equipment as well as infection control specialists to educate them on how to keep elderly residents safe.
The aged care sector is riddled with problems. The biggest one is the under resourcing of staff. Many of the staff are poorly trained with only the minimum qualifications required. There is little support or reward for upgrading skills.
There is no transparency or accountability by the Federal Government about how they manage aged care. We know now that there are huge systemic problems in this sector which has been lacking in compliance checks and regulation for too long.
It’s a broken system and we have known about these problems for a long time. It’s taken the pandemic to bring these issues into public consciousness. Aged care is a federal responsibility, but the Morrison government has abandoned the elderly citizens of this country.
We need to fix this system urgently. Aged care facilities need an increase in trained staff, including registered nurses and a deeper skill mix, including OTs, physios and psychologists.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care has recommended in its Interim Report that elderly people should be protected by an independent Aged Care Ombudsman and that there should be urgent funding to increase staff in aged care homes. The report also criticises the Morrison-McCormack Government for its lack of a dedicated plan or clear leadership which led to the tragedy we have witnessed in so many aged care homes this year.
This story was originally published in Libby's October Newsletter. Please click here to subscribe to the email newsletter.Share Tweet