The Meeting Place

What's your problem with aged care?

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety gets under way in Adelaide on 18 January and in other states and territories on dates yet to be announced. However, members of the public and community groups can still make submissions with the cut-off date expected to be in June.

Submissions can be made via an online form on the commission’s website or you can:

  • write to the royal commission at GPO Box 1151, Adelaide SA 5001
  • email ACRCenquiries@royalcommission.gov.au
  • telephone 1800 960 711 (between 8am and 8pm AEDT Monday to Friday except on public holidays).

 

The terms of reference for the inquiry are set out on the website and the commission reminds everyone that it cannot resolve individual disputes.

It advises that anyone with concerns about the quality of care or services at aged care facilities subsidised by the Government should contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, which took over the work of the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency on 1 January.

The office of Ken Wyatt, Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, said the new commission “will better target aged care homes that provide sub-standard care and will be a single, trusted point of contact for aged care recipients, their families and loved ones, and aged care providers”.

11 comments

I really hope this enquiry doesn't forget country areas.  I live in Orange NSW and there are several nursing homes here.  However, to be honest, there's only one that I would consider good and no others that I would consider any more than really less than adequate.  Aged care in this City is deplorable.  I have a friend who lives in assisted living attached to a major nursing home and OMG, some of the stories she's told me would disgust anyone.  There is just not enough accountability and these places get away with their shoddy treatment of the elderly because the poor darlings are too afraid to speak out.  Please, please consider looking into Aged Care in our area.

The word CARE is the crucial one.  Are these beautiful people really being CARED for with love, consideration, empathy and understanding of their real needs.   Yes there are some really good Aged Care facilities BUT we have seen a few which I would not like to be incarcerated in.  I realise some residents can be difficult due to their medical and mental problems but they are still human beings, so extra training for staff is essential to give them the CARE and attention they need.    Being an Aged care worker is not an easy job - but can be very rewarding if done properly - and special training put in place.

Can we please get over the thinking that all elderly people are paragons of virtue, sweet little old ladies, and perfectly behaved little old men. They/we are not all 'beautiful people'. I agree they all should be cared for in the best of places with well trained staff who genuinely like their job. Yes there should be more than adequate numbers of staff, conditions that anyone would be happy to live in and food that is both accessible and nutritious. But let's not get carried away with the fantasy that these elderly are all angels. They/we are not and that is what makes aged care a difficult occupation to be in. The vast majority of which do the right thing. 

I seldom agree with you KSS but you are correct.  Society is made up of all types and some people may appear like kind old people but are anything but.  Some have a lifetime of acting and adapting and can fool people for a while.

I agree that no matter who the clientelle are they deserve proper care.  The hard facts are that proper care costs and nursing homes with real staff levels have to charge more for premium care.  Budget operators with a skeleton staff, the ones you hear about in the media, are what they are:  a business extracting the maximum profit out of the remaining assets of people at the end of their time.

I'm going through this with a loved one at present.  Its tough dealing with older folk who have dementia and trying to do the right thing when they think you are trying to get rid of them.  Heart breaking.  I hope your belief that most places are good is factual as have a few to see yet.  First one was fantastic but expensive.

Rob the local supermarket, servo or bank with a weapon, assualt & threaten the police when they arrive, plead guilty to all charges & abuse the judge. Get 10 years in a place that's far better than any nursing home & free.

Point is that the criminals of this country are better looked after than our elderly & the tax payer foots the bill.

My wife who is blind,was in emergency respite in an aged care facility in our local area because of me going into hospital.

I thought she was in good hands but when I came out of hospital after one week I found a changed person due to no one speaking to her; food disgusting ( sausages for breakfast lunch and dinner ) and other patients or staff stealing things from her. Even that she was entitled to 2 weeks of respite I took her out straight away as the floor she was on had many patients who should have been on the dementia ward which was overflowing so the lesser dangerous ones were on her floor.

If the place had been an animal refuge, the RSPCA would have condemned it.

It is despicable the way so many people that need care are treated and they have NO one to stand up for them --  most if not ALL these places are all about MONEY -- people that are dependent need so much care -and also need people with empathy and love to be looking after them -- as it is no east task --

It's true that not all old people are nice. My grandmother was an absolute harridan all her life and was thrown out of two nursing homes, that I know of, there could well have been more.

Even nice people can change with dementia. I have a friend whose mother is suffering from dementia and in a nursing home now.  She has become quite aggressive though I remember her as a thoroughly nice, softly spoken, gentle lady.  As my friend says, "She wouldn't have said boo to a goose," in the past.

So yeah, there are two sides to this story. The staff have a lot to cope with, not an easy job.  But like others have said mistreating the elderly is never okay, no matter what the circumstances.

I don't know what the answer is.  I tend to think all social issues such as this, should be run by Governments, or at least by not for profit organisations, but their record hasn't been all that squeaky clean in the past either.

Not enough training goes into people who are aged care workers especially when it comes to dementia patients. 

Hopefully it will weed out the incompetent people who run these places just for a profit. I think they are taking too many shortcuts to make profits, maybe the not for profit charities should be encouraged and subsidised more to run aged care.

Hi musicveg,

Agree with both of your comments, this one and above.  Gerontology is 'unsexy' and does not attract the attention, training and pay.

The reports of the federal government's own auditor (ANAO) have identified serious deficiencies in aged care and aged care facilities for years. It should grind the gears of older people and the broader community too that despite having plenty of time for political gamesmanship on such matters as gay rights, there is precious little attention being given to policy affecting mature Australians.  Yet when Australian officials strut the world stage there is the pretence that Australia is on the leading edge of healthy and positive ageing policy.

Maybe if Australian politicians travelled internationally less, stopped lecturing others and attended to their own backyard.

 

Yes they seem to like going travelling, seeing places, meeting people and feeling important, making Australia look better than it is so everyone wants to immigrate. The problems of Australia just like every country are ignored especially when there is no money or incentive in it for them, come election time promises are made, a little is done but never enough.

 

KSS says : “Can we please get over the thinking that all elderly people are paragons of virtue, sweet little old ladies, and perfectly behaved little old men….. “but let's not get carried away with the fantasy that these elderly are all angels.”

 

Now that’s the truth. According to Journals of Gerontology, just like in high school or even primary school, assisted living facilities and nursing homes have their share of bullies. Some people do not always grow out their aggressive tendencies as they age. General statistics estimate around 20% of seniors in nursing homes experience some form of aggression by their fellow inmates. The figure may be higher because of people hesitating to report.

I do agree with comments that care in our nursing homes should be improved but let’s not blame it all on the staff or management. It’s very hard to deal with some of these troublemakers. Citing the situation in the US although providers are doing their best to prevent this behaviour from the elderly, the position is, they are becoming more and more discerning as to whom they will have in their homes. The same should happen in Australia. Some children off load their unruly parents to nursing homes and give the problems to someone else.

Ostracism, rumours, and cliques are other types of senior-to-senior bullying. Certainly some causes may be medical – the effects of Alzheimer’s and other dementias can affect a person’s perception of and reaction to certain social situations, but researchers say some seniors may have been bullies throughout their lives, and are merely carrying this behaviour into their new living situation. Regardless of the cause, providers in the US are strongly thinking along the lines of having references of a person’s character before giving them a place in their institution. I think we could benefit from the American research.

Journals of Gerontology

Note:

Giving in to bullies is not on.

Humour is not  bullying.

Retaliation to bullies is not bullying.

Bullying begins at home.

 

The only way aged care will improve is for the government to be more proactive. Private administrators are making a mint for sure and are not living up to their promises. I feel what is needed is a legitimate government body to oversee these facilities and another body made up of ordinary citizens keeping an eye on them to ensure they’re not falling asleep on the job. People who are being abused in these places are afraid to speak out because of retribution.

As KIAH said, bullying does occur in aged care homes and this is not only among seniors. Seniors also bully the staff. Many of the workers are foreign labour and do need a lot more training to deal with unsociable behaviour. But all the training in the world cannot make up for being short staffed and that’s something that needs to be addressed by the government and enforced guidelines handed out to owners who are literally getting away with murder.

Bupa's ninth aged care home sanctioned in 12 months over 'severe risk' to residents

Bupa Aged Care Eden will be unable to accept any new residents or receive Commonwealth funding for a period of six months as a result of the latest sanction.

The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency identified several issues at Bupa's Eden home, relating to medication management, clinical care, staffing and human resources, and behaviour management. And it was a similar story across the eight other Bupa homes currently sanctioned.

Full ABC story, including Bupa's response.

So if they don't get the funding for 6 months won't standards fall even further?

Their financial results look healthy enough.

https://www.bupa.com/corporate/our-performance/financial-results

I wonder if they pay their taxes or is most of that profit hidden in tax havens? Aren't they an American company?

Bupa is an international healthcare group, with its origins and headquarters in the United Kingdom. According to their About Us:

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 22,000 aged care residents in our care homes and villages.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

Mmmm ... to the last Bupa statement above.

A lot of big business have their headquarters in UK but who really behind it? They can say anything on their website, they are not going to tell anyone about their failings. They are still a profit seeking business and I believe aged care should be in the hands of not-for-profit, maybe then they would not cut corners and have the caring people, like Anglicare.

11 comments