‘National disgrace’ an opportunity for Robert
WHILE the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety highlighted cases of abuse, neglect and suffering of Australia’s elderly, CentacareCQ chief executive Robert Sims said the report wasn’t all “doom and gloom”.
“For me the report spoke really well of the challenges the aged care sector currently faces,” Mr Sims said.
“It’s a really good reality check for the things we don’t do well in the sector and highlights what’s going on, but there are some good things happening.”
Three of the biggest issues in the report were the need for home care packages, an over-reliance on chemical restraints and preventing younger people with disability from entering aged care.
Mr Sims knows the importance of securing more home care packages better than most. With more than 1157 Central Queenslanders on the waitlist he deals with people in need daily.
“The wait list is a real challenge. It’s almost a lottery – they don’t know when they’re going to get support,” he said.
CentacareCQ provides care for 2,000 elderly people and those with a disability in Central Queensland, to help them live more independently, through assistance, counselling, support and education – many of them are on the waitlist.
Mr Sims said there needs to be more transparency surrounding the home care package selection process in order for people to access help.
“It’s a bit of black spot about how those processes work,” he said.
“The earlier we can get people in, the better outcome for the entire system.”
A total of 1209 people in the Fitzroy region are receiving home care packages but almost as many people are waiting.
He said waiting for help had a significant impact on seniors’ livelihood.
“If you can get the right level of support early we might be able to slow down deterioration and get better support for the clients, which reduces the long term wait list.”
While cases of abuse continue to be commonly linked to the Royal Commission, Mr Sims said a lot of the wrongdoings were historical and the system was already changing to protect the vulnerable.
“New rules that came out on July 1 make it clearer for organisations to meet the needs of residents,” he said.
The biggest issue with the aged care sector was securing funding, according to Mr Sims.
“It’s the education component and the funding component – we need to make sure the resources are available to provide good services,” he said.
“You can commoditise a product as much as you want and keep it as cheap as possible but quality will reduce.”
He said the inquiry was an opportunity to make sure quality services were provided but in order to do that regulators need to monitor the system.
“We need wraparound services funding to make sure the care is tailored towards individual clients to ensure there are the right services for them,” he said.
“What the government has put into the sector has been good, but there needs to be more packages because the need is growing – we have an ageing population.”
The commissioners are required to deliver the final report by November 12, 2020 but Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke said the Federal Government needed to address the waiting list now.
“This is a national disgrace, and it’s a local disgrace as well,” Mr O’Rourke said.
“The people in Canberra have absolutely failed our older residents over a long period of time.
“The Federal Government cannot seriously claim to be shocked by anything the commission has found.”
Federal member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the government would continue to listen to the issues as they emerged throughout the inquiry.
“The interim report and the Royal Commission’s hearings to date tell us some aged care providers are falling far short of delivering the safe, high-quality care expected by senior Australians and their loved ones,” Ms Landry said.
She dismissed Mr O’Rourke’s call for action and said the commission would ensure senior Australians get the care they deserve.