I would like to respond to your recent RiotACT article on the quality of services delivered in aged care facilities. As the founder of Canberra-based home and community care agency All About Care, I’m a passionate supporter of the aged care, disability and early childhood sectors.
Our beloved industry is in crisis. This will continue to cost the government and tax payers (let’s not forget the people of the government are also tax payers) money, time and resources to fix. From my own experience, most industry groups feel just as strongly about this issue as you and me.
I often lay awake at night pondering my own future. I’m 43 years old with two amazing daughters who would absolutely do everything they could to assist with my independence as I get older, but I also don’t want to be a burden on them just when their own lives are getting started. And let’s not forget the burden on the people of Australia, how our forefathers must be turning over in their graves!
I’d like to add my personal point of view to some of the points you raised in your article, particularly around lack of standards in aged care facilities and funding.
We’ve come a long way in the last six decades. Prior to 1954, aged care facilities were called ‘asylums’ and relied donations and volunteers to care and advocate for the residents. Then the Federal Government introduced the Aged Care Act which provided subsides for those charities to assist with the development of self-contained accommodations and hostels.
In the 1980s there were four major reviews (which can be googled). In 1995 the Labor government implemented aged care reform—its major objective was to implement of appropriate assessment strategies to improve access, equity and participation right across the sector. They introduced the following policies (I’m still feeling wow, what an impact):
- Aged care standards and accreditations
- Complaints and resolution scheme advocacy
- Community care packages and extended care packages
- Accommodation charges and means testing
- Concessional beds
- Building certifications
- Residential classification scale
- Ageing in place
In addition to those policies, all industries must adhere to the Privacy Act, Freedom Act, Human Rights Act, Archives Act and Crimes Act.
I’m still trying to figure out how our government prioritises funding. My conclusion is that the most important decisions are made during Happy Hour as I can’t fathom how funding ballerinas takes precedence over dementia funding. Where does this happy hour take place? They must be the best mind-altering drinks in town…
The most talked about topic in my industry is its funding model. When cuts occur (as they frequently do), nine times out of ten, they start at the bottom, affecting care staff and other frontline workers. Rarely do they impact the CEO or board.
What most people don’t know is that all aged care facilities’ financial profiles can be found using a simple tool called Google. For example, I was shocked to discover last week that one Canberra facility, who has been cutting corners for four years, earned between $1 million and $5 million last financial year.
It breaks my heart every time I here of an unnatural death in our facilities care. Thank God most of the time residents pass away in their sleep. Most of these deaths are dementia related, but will frequently be reported as suspicious or under investigation, particularly when the death occurs in the early hours between 2am and 5am. It makes you question where the staff were, and what they were doing at the time. But please bear in mind that night duty usually consists of four workers, depending on the ratio of residents to staff. Their main tasks are to perform hourly health and safety checks and four-hourly incontinence checks.
I could debate these issues all day, but I’d rather put my energy into proactively leading the way. A change is on the horizon and it’s time we become united together. If that means moving away from what has always be traditional or historical then I say let’s do it.
So I invite you, Mr Hargreaves (and everyone else who can spare a small amount of time), to give me a call to arrange a meeting over a coffee that isn’t mind altering.
Principal Owner All About Care