PM to turn royal commission spotlight on aged care sector

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 16, 2018

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a royal commission into the aged care sector following appalling cases of abuse of elderly people.

Among the failings, which spanned a decade, were allegations that a 70-year-old resident was bashed to death by another patient, and a 99-year-old female resident was indecently assaulted by a male carer.

There was an 177 per cent increase in the number of aged care homes where a serious risk to residents was identified in the last financial year, according to new government figures.

"There are thousands of extraordinary operators, facilities, care providers, nursing and other clinical staff, volunteers, cleaners, cooks, therapists out there improving the lives of senior Australians every day", he said.

Canberra funding for aged care is already at record levels, reaching Aus$18.6 billion (US$13.3 billion) in 2017-18.

Since that scandal, the health department has closed nearly one aged care service each month, while a growing number are failing to meet standards, Morrison said in a statement.

The inquiry will probe profit and non-for-profit organisations, and also look at the care given to younger Australians with disabilities living in such facilities.

Leading industry bodies have welcomed the government's shift in focus towards aged care and say politicians must not delay when it comes to keeping older Australians safe. A Senate inquiry into the aged-care sector in February found evidence of "systemic issues that negatively impact the quality of aged care services" throughout Australia.

The majority of aged care is high quality but the royal commission will be a chance to have a "broader conversation" about what the community wants from aged care, chief executive Pat Sparrow said.

"Whether there is a crisis in aged care or not is to be determined", Morrison said in a statement.

The prime minister said Australia was a world leader in aged care, and most operators and carers were outstanding.

The Prime Minister's announcement also follows the alleged abuse of David Nabulsi, 82, in a Bupa aged care facility in Seaforth on Sydney's northern beaches. Official figures show a further 17 aged-care facilities now have sanctions imposed. Complaints about home and community care rose from about 3900 to 5780 in the same period.

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