National Seniors Australia, the country’s peak member organisation for older Australians, is demanding action now on aged care ahead of today’s release of the Royal Commission’s interim report.
Chief Advocate Ian Henschke says the commission has already laid bare the shortcomings of the sector following disturbing evidence of abuse, neglect and deaths of aged care patients.
“We cannot afford to wait to take action.
“Regardless of today’s report, the Aged Care Minister and the industry must work together immediately so we no longer have patients with maggots in wounds due to neglect,” he said.
Mr Henschke says the other big issue which needs to be addressed is the long waiting list for Commonwealth Home Care Packages.
“Last year 16,000 of our older Australians died waiting for a home care package, while a further 13,000 were placed into residential aged care because they couldn’t get the home help they desperately needed.”
“As Dr. Tim McEvoy QC assisting the commission said in one of the hearings, the waiting list for home care was ‘cruel, unfair, disrespectful and discriminatory,’ ” Mr Henschke said.
National Seniors also wants the industry and government to address staff to patient ratios.
In its submission to the Royal Commission, National Seniors, led by CEO Professor John McCallum said it wants better training of staff so that they are qualified to help patients suffering dementia, the leading cause of death of women in Australia.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care has been extended for a further six months with the final recommendations not due until November next year.
Mr Henschke says the government cannot hide behind the excuse of waiting until then to act. It has already been accused of being “missing in action” by counsel Rozen QC.
“People are dying from neglect in Australia and they are dying on waiting lists for home care,” he said.
“This crisis in aged care is an emergency and warrants urgent action.”