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Sector responds to Royal Commission launch

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is a “once in a generation” opportunity to improve Australia’s aged care system and set higher care standards across the country, say industry representatives.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety launched in Adelaide last week. (Source: Shutterstock)
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety launched in Adelaide last week. (Source: Shutterstock)

Council of the Ageing (COTA) Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates says he is pleased with the way the Commission is approaching its work, by encouraging people to come forward with their experiences and placing a significant focus on the future.

“The really critical thing is to make sure that we improve the design of our system, which is not broken, but, as the Commissioners said, has experienced significant challenges and is stalling in places, so that it delivers more evenly at a high level,” Mr Yates, who attended the preliminary hearing in Adelaide on Friday, says.

“We want to see the high quality of care that does exist in the industry become the norm and be rewarded and recognised, and that we increase expectations in the community to the level where poorer quality providers would just not be able to offer their services.”

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sean Rooney, who was also at the hearing, says it is vital the Commission is open and transparent.

“The safety of older Australians is not negotiable and any instance of failure of care is unacceptable. We all want a safe, high quality and high performing aged care system. Older Australians need it and older Australians deserve nothing less,” he says.

“We must grasp this once in a generation opportunity to make the aged care system better for all older Australians, now and into the future.”

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) CEO Pat Sparrow agrees, saying she looks forward to engaging with the Commission.

“Incidents of poor practice overshadow the good work being done by the many excellent aged care providers around the country – indeed all those in the industry committed to quality care,” she says.

“Aged care is a uniquely human industry. We recognise things can and do go wrong but believe the majority of care provided to older Australians is of high quality and delivered by a community of passionate and caring aged care professionals.”

“The nation needs to have a hard conversation about the care we want to provide to older Australians, and what must be done to make that possible.”

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt says the Royal Commission is a “crucial step forward” in determining the full extent of problems in aged care.

“It will go to the structural reforms required, identifying where we as a nation need to make further substantial changes,” Minister Wyatt says.

“As with all issues of concern, compliance and preventive actions will be undertaken as required, without hesitation. There will be absolutely no compromise on quality care.”

South Australian Aged Rights Advocacy Service Inc (ARAS) CEO Carolanne Barkla hopes the Commission will help create a system that Australians can rely on.

“In recent times there have been too many stories from around the nation exposing poor quality care, elder abuse, long waiting lists to obtain aged care packages as well as difficulties accessing and navigating the aged care system,” Ms Barkla says.

“Older Australians and their families need to be able to trust in an aged care system that is transparent, robust, delivers quality of care and quality of life where older people are treated with respect and dignity, live a life of purpose, free from violence, abuse or neglect.

“The Royal Commission, with its significant investigative powers can examine the wide ranging issues concerning older people and their families, determining the extent of the issues and provide a pathway forward for change.”

The Royal Commission’s first substantive hearing is scheduled to start in Adelaide on 11 February, continuing into the week of 18 February.

READ: Royal Commission looks to future and giving older Australians a voice

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