Most aged care needs unmet

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has heard a great deal from experts, staff and administrators, but what about the thoughts of the people inside the system?

It turns out that those living in residential aged care facilities or receiving home care packages are every bit as unhappy with the system as you would expect.

In fact, according to surveys by the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), which were presented to the royal commission last week, only around one quarter of those living in aged care facilities or receiving home care packages feel that their care needs are always met.

Around 39 per cent of those in residential aged care said that their needs were ‘mostly’ met, while that number was only 32.5 per cent for those receiving home care.

Care needs were met only ‘sometimes’, ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ for 33.4 per cent of people in residential care and 44.1 per cent in home care.

The share of people with care needs met ‘sometimes’, rarely’ or ‘never’ was even higher among people who use aged care respite services.

In the surveys, people identified concerns across many areas of their aged care.

Aged care facility residents are most commonly concerned about staffing, which includes lack of staff, call bells not being answered, high rates of staff turnover, inadequate training, and agency staff not knowing the resident or their needs.

The most common area of concern for people receiving a home care package was finance and administration, which included a lack of value for money, fee transparency, service coordination and rostering.

When the survey respondents were asked if they had lodged an official complaint or even an informal complaint, many said they did not report it as they did not think that anything would change or they did not want to be a nuisance.

Others said they were unsure who to report an issue to, while others felt that their concerns were too minor to bother registering an official complaint.

Of the concerns that were raised officially, less than 1 per cent were raised with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and less than half were resolved to the satisfaction of the care recipient.

Professor Joseph Ibrahim from Monash University said there was a need to hold aged care providers to higher standards.

“The current system of weak enforcement and inconsequential sanctions must change. Approved providers, their board members and executives should be held criminally culpable for institutional neglect and abuse, similar to what happens in workplaces,” Prof. Ibrahim said.

“Without substantive consequences, government ministers, their departments, the regulator and providers will not change their behaviour.”

Prof. Ibrahim said more power should be given to those in the system to ensure there were more resident-focused policies in place.

“Participation must go beyond asking about what flavour of ice cream to serve with dessert. Residents should, for example, be able to influence the selection of staff, sit on the board of governance, and be consulted about the operations of the care home and the whole sector,” Prof. Ibrahim said.

“Establishing a national group comprised almost entirely of aged care residents, with the addition of legal and administration expertise, and people who can assist with supported decision-making, would be a positive step. This group would report to federal parliament about funding, policy and practice reforms for aged care.”

Do you have a family member living in a residential aged care facility? Do you feel that their needs are always met? Do you receive home care packages? Are your needs always met?

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Written by Ben


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