Aged care issue

The ABC’s recent Four Corners investigation into aged care has shone a spotlight on some of the serious issues faced by some of our most vulnerable residents.
While the kinds of abuse and neglect raised in the program are not necessarily reflective of the care at all – or even most – aged care homes, the report has raised serious questions about the safety and wellbeing of our older population.
As a nation we have a responsibility to care for and respect our elders, many of whom have helped to shape and build our country, and the revelations of the shortcomings within the industry demand action.
Choosing an aged care home for a loved one can be a difficult and stressful task for families and one that is often done under pressure or during times of upheaval or grief.
With long waiting lists, few industry benchmarks and a lack of mandated transparency within the industry, making an informed decision can seem almost impossible.
Retirees are choosing to stay in their own homes for longer and are entering aged care homes at older ages, putting more pressure on residential care facilities to offer a higher level of care.
It’s essential that the industry – and the Government departments responsible for funding the industry – keep up with these demands and provide the kind of care and volume of staff required to meet the care and recreational needs of these residents.
It’s encouraging to see that change is slowly beginning to happen, with some initiatives, such as unannounced audits and safety checks, recently introduced.
But while that measure may prevent homes from covering up non-compliance issues, more action still needs to be taken.
The terms of reference for the Federal Government’s Royal Commission into aged care are yet to be determined, but it is essential it thoroughly examines the industry and the measures that need to be taken to make it more transparent, more accountable and safer for residents.
Any change that aids decision making for families during the difficult process of choosing an aged care home should be encouraged and acted upon as soon as possible.