Aged Care in Australia: A Shocking Tale of Neglect

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report has found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.
Commissioners Richard Tracey AM, RFD, QC and Lynelle Briggs’s AO investigation into Australia’s aged care system led them to describe the aged care system as “a shocking tale of neglect”.
“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”
Entitled Neglect, the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which was tabled in the Australian Parliament today, found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required.
The Interim Report sets out the extent of the failure of Australia’s aged care services and what the Royal Commission has learned to date.
Commissioners describe the many problems that older people and their families have in trying to get access to aged care services, service shortfalls, the dispiriting nature of residential care, serious substandard care and unsafe practice, an underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce, and isolation of young people with disabilities.

Commissioners identified three areas where immediate action can be taken:
• to provide more Home Care Packages to reduce the waiting list for higher level care at home
• to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care, including through the seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement
• to stop the flow of younger people with a disability going into aged care, and speed up the process of getting out those young people who are already in aged care.
The Interim Report is in three volumes and is now available to read on the Royal Commission’s website along with an extract from the foreword, ‘A Shocking Tale of Neglect’.
It covers much, but not all, of the work of the Royal Commission through to September 2019. Most of the Royal Commission’s work on quality and safety considerations will be in the Final Report.

The Interim Report explains that the aged care system needs fundamental reform and redesign. It identifies systemic problems in aged care with a system that:
• is designed around transactions, not relationships or care
• minimises the voices of people receiving care and their loved ones
• is hard to navigate and does not provide information people need to make informed choices about their care
• relies on a regulatory model that does not provide transparency or an incentive to improve, and
• has a workforce that is under pressure and under-appreciated and that lacks key skills.

You can download all volumes of The Interim Report here.