Time to fix broken system

SHAPING FUTURE CARE: The royal commission report will act as a catalyst for change in aged care.
SHAPING FUTURE CARE: The royal commission report will act as a catalyst for change in aged care.

We've heard the horror stories: first-hand accounts of care gone wrong.

We've heard providers describe the red tape involved in providing care.

We've heard care workers tell of their desperation at not being able to spend more time with clients.

We've heard families describe their fears for loved ones in care and receiving care at home.

We've heard of assaults and neglect.

We've heard of long waiting lists for home care and problems navigating a complex aged care system. Even a former federal treasurer admitted he'd have trouble filling out the necessary paperwork.

And we've heard experts share their thoughts on what we could do to fix an ailing aged care system.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety laid bare Australia's aged care system - and it was't a pretty sight. Shocking. Distressing. Unbelievable. Disgraceful. It's hard to find words to aptly describe how I felt as brave people told their stories so that others may not have to endure the same pain, desperation, exasperation, exhaustion and confusion.

But let's not forget that we've also heard the good things - from people expressing gratitude for their level of care; from providers who see innovation as the way forward and person-centred care as a given; from staff who go the extra mile to ensure their clients receive the best care possible.

Now we've heard enough. And we want results - quickly, but not without due consideration.

Counsel Assisting the royal commission have delivered a comprehensive list of recommendations - 124 of them, in fact - headed by a new Aged Care Act. This must be a priority; without an act that properly regulates the industry, how can we expect change to not only be expected to be done, but to be done. No ifs or buts.

Now commissioners Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs will consider everything they have heard, to deliver their final report by February 26.

It's a task that no doubt weighs heavily on their shoulders.

Their historic report will shape the future of aged care in Australia and hopefully act as a catalyst to start rebuilding confidence in a system that, sadly, has become our nation's shame.

  • Cheryl Field is editor of The Senior, Australia's leading newspaper for over-55s. Read it online: thesenior.com.au

Long waitlists must be cleared

THE home care waiting list is enormous - more than 100,000.

The government has released more packages but still frail elderly wait, many accepting a lower level of care until they can receive the package they have been assessed as needing.

Last week United Workers Union home care members delivered a petition of 2000 signatures of home care workers, clients and families to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's office, sending a strong message that these waitlists need to be cleared.

"Clients have died waiting for their home care packages, devastating families and care workers," said the union's spokesperson for home care Mel Gatfield.

"The royal commission... has highlighted this crisis but workers are continuing to be left out of the conversation when they know best what the system needs to work.

"Care workers overwhelmingly endorse Counsel Assisting's recommendation to the royal commission that the government should clear the home care waitlist by December 21 and keep it clear by providing people with a package at the approved level within one month of assessment."

Fantasy? Perhaps. But if you don't ask, you'll never get. This is one problem we could do without.