Aged care shame

The aged care royal commission will present its final report to the federal government in February. It received more than 10,000 submissions and close to 7000 phone calls. It released an interim report titled Neglect in October 2019 and another late last month.

In a recent YourLifeChoices article, University of NSW emeritus professor Richard Hugman made the startling assessment that “the way policies are framed around running these [aged care facilities], it is as if they are running a factory”.

It may be too late to present your comments to the commission, but they laid bare the issues with aged care. We thank you for taking the time to comment and present some edited comments here as a further means of exposing the issues in aged care.

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LFC: Would not even consider entering one [aged care facility]. Appreciate argument re impact on those around you if you elect to stay in your home but anything better than the poor attention, food and medical support some of these so called aged care facilities offer.

MJM: As a frontline carer, the biggest obstacle is everyone above you! Management has to answer to head office. Government gives money in a situation called ACFI [Aged Care Funding Instrument]. Basically, facilities get money from government on top of basic from client. Things like giving medication to toileting and assisting with personal care. So ultimately they take away your ability to be independent for cash. They feed them rubbish fish fingers, party pies …

Ozirules: My folks … were treated as cash cows. There were party pies and frankfurts on the weekends when there was no cook onsite and during the week when they had proper meals the portions were tightly rationed to come under budget. The worst thing though was the loss of dignity. Staff entered rooms without simply knocking and they went through residents’ drawers frequently. They wouldn’t let mum keep even a Panadol in case of need when staff were unavailable … The facility was two years old and on the surface looked great, but was what I would describe as all fur coat and no knickers. I fought them tooth and nail and won some but got empty promises for most issues. I offered to move the folks out but they had friends there and didn’t want to leave. Under-staffed because most of the wages budget went on the excessive tiers of management.

Hirajima: The bottom line is, of course, money. Everyone wants to spend as little of it as possible. It’s why our manufacturing industries died – consumers wanted cheap cheap cheap, so manufacturing moved offshore and a lot of consumers lost their jobs in manufacturing. Go figure. Now, of course, the same people want to put nan and pop into a nursing home because they are too busy working three jobs to pay for the next cruise. But they don’t want to pay much for the nursing home, so the home employs cheap labour, most of whom are barely qualified. And then everyone complains when it doesn’t work out.

Tanker: The problem is the federal government supplies taxpayer funds to aged care facilities but does not exercise proper controls on that funding … [It] has responsibility for aged care and all they think needs to be done is throw more money at it without oversight of where that money is being spent.

Tarzan: There are different stages of growing old, the last one is where professional nursing is really needed. This cannot be done in many families. [But] far too many are placed in care when with help from a carer they could live on at home for many years. Homes can be modified to help the ageing, bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens and ramps and, best of all, the government helps with this. I live in a village where many in their 80s and 90s live happily with professional caregivers; they have a quality of life that is happy, they enjoy living with neighbours they have known for years, they listen to each others’ medical news, share the daily paper and importantly care for each other. My advice is that as soon as your home becomes a chore move to a village, you will make friends with people of a similar age and with similar interests … I am the healthiest I’ve been for 20 years, have caring friends in the village, no maintenance problems, family come and go, life is great.

travelman: I am familiar with aged care homes having worked in them, as a nurse in the 1980s and 90s. Nothing has changed from then to now. The three major problems are government funding being inadequate, private ‘run’ aged facilities where excessive profit comes first and care of residents comes last, and staff training non-existent. All nursing homes should be government run by professional caring and trained management and staff. But how to get a competent government to organise this is the problem. [For] too long has this situation has been ignored by both state and federal governments.

Beaky: I can only see the government having talk fests as at present, to make us suckers believe that they are doing something. Don’t hold your breath to see any improvement.

ollie: This government sees the aged as a burden on the economy. They did not listen to the last royal commission and they won’t listen to the next one.

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Written by Janelle Ward

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