So, what has come out of the Royal Commission so far
The Royal Commission into Safety & Quality in Residential Aged Care & Home Care, does not seem to have come up with the extreme revelations that came out of the Banking & Financial Royal Commission.
That is not to say that the aged care industry is perfect, far from it. However, to put perspective around it, & not just a journalists desire to sensationalize for the sake of a headline or ratings. The aged care industry does its best to deliver a service to our elderly & vulnerable, in an environment that is ridiculously underfunded, & yet the public rightly demand single rooms & better-quality fit outs, with more services. We visit aged care facilities every day, we see far more good work than bad, however journalists will never give any time or space to good stories, & only ever point out the bad stories. It is fair enough that the bad be pointed outbut the media refuse to point out the good, therefore there is a perception that aged care is only bad, which is clearly not true.
We ask most of our clients what is their experience with their parent or family member in care & 90% of the responses are positive, & 10% negative. There is still room for improvement, but that hardly confirms the inference that ALL aged care is bad. It is just simply a matter of presenting a balanced view.
Nobody seems to be asking the question “What would good aged care look like” i.e. is there a model for aged care that would keep the residents, their family & the expectation of the community happy? Once that model has been defined, then it can be determined what would it take to fund it (to build it & fit it out, staff it, & service it). The big question is – what will it cost to have such a perfect system?
My guess is that it is completely possible to deliver, BUT could the public afford it, & would the Government be prepared to subsidize it so that it becomes a reality. Because such a service will need more qualified nurses, more staff, better-quality facilities and better pay rates, therefore it WILL cost more.
It seems that there are a few different aged care models that deliver residential care in a small (up to 9 people) home-like dwelling, that does not feel like an institution, where there are plenty of staff to handle each resident needs. However, they are either extremely expensive (out of the reach of 95% of the population) OR they are quite a long way out of the major cities, ie not convenient (because it is much cheaper to obtain land & build facilities in remote areas.) This brings up the issue of do you want to be close to your relative AND have the kind of care model that is intimate & attentive, but possibly not affordable or convenient, or would you be happy to get this care & have them be in an aged care facility a long way away from you. Possibly the use of technology like Skype & Messenger may be a way of keeping people in touch.
There is not going to be any quick fix to the aged care dilemma, nor will the Royal Commission fix anything if the Government or the public are not prepared to pay more to fund the staffing levels needed to deliver quality care, & have pay rates that attract the best nurses. Many nurses don’t want to work for less money than they could earn in the acute care system (hospitals), so aged care often doesn’t attract the best staff available. This is not to say that most aged care staff are not good (they are), they are lovely people who do their best, but they may not have the command of English, or the best level of training, which is why some aged care facilities are creating their own training to improve the skills of their staff.
I will be interested in seeing whether the Royal Commission delivers the extra funding needed to solve the problems, but I somewhat doubt it.