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PM announces Royal Commission into aged-care sector

Michael McLaren
Article image for PM announces Royal Commission into aged-care sector

A Royal Commission into the aged-care sector has been announced by Scott Morrison, following a string of damming revelations around elder abuse and neglect.

The inquiry, anticipated to cost about $75 million, is set to expose and scrutinise the “disturbing trend” of non-compliance running rampant in the system. Amid a backdrop of a rapidly ageing population and with authorities forcibly closing one aged-care service a month, many are saying the commission is a timely thing to pursue.

“This is long overdue,” says Paul Versteege from the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, who have been calling for a commission since June.

“We’re very pleased that the Government has seen fit to call a Royal Commission into aged care. The standards of care have been very low for a long time. We’ve seen scandal after scandal for more than a decade.”

Versteege says a fix for the transgression-ridden system lies in compulsory staff-to-resident ratios. It’s thought chronic under-staffing has contributed to the 170% jump in aged-care services being slapped with risk notices in the past year.  A 292% hike in industry non-compliance has also been observed.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” explains Versteege.

“There should be staff-to-resident ratios in nursing homes. It’s quite obvious. Staffing is the key to the solution of aged-care abuse and neglect.”

“You have nursing homes that run on 1 registered nurse per 100 to 150 residents. Obviously that’s going to create problems. It’s putting people in a room and hoping for the best.”

The commission will also look to ascertain how prepared the system is to take on an expected surge in demand, with the ageing population set to make its presence known shortly.

“With 108,000 on the home care package waiting list already, it’s quite clear that we are not prepared.”

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Michael McLaren