Aged care sector blasted by the Royal Commission for “neglect and abuse”

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s final report has detailed an extensive plan to totally overhaul Australia’s aged care system.

In the wake of a damning royal commission, the aged care sector is set for a complete transformation after the report revealed the profound “neglect and abuse” of elderly Australians.

The commission has made 148 recommendations to address structural issues in funding and governance, formulated after evidence from over 600 experts, residents and families, over a period of nearly 100 hearing days. Food and nutrition, dementia care, the use of restrictive practices, and palliative care have been highlighted as areas in need of urgent attention to fix a sector that the commission’s interim report said: “diminishes Australia as a nation.”

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Tony Pagone and Lynelle Briggs (L-R) Photo:

The Federal Government responded with an initial injection of $452 million into the sector, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also promised a more “comprehensive” response when announcing the Federal budget in May.

One of the two commissioners, Lynelle Briggs, said “at least one in three people accessing residential aged care and home care services had experienced substandard care. An estimated 13% to 18% of residents had experienced physical and sexual assault.”

Fellow commissioner Tony Pagone said sub-standard care was “unacceptable, deeply concerning, and has been known for many years.” Both commissioners agreed that “some form of aged care levy should be introduced,” however Pagone also suggested that funding the entire system through a levy with funds set aside for the sector should be considered.

Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has announced the commitment to replace the 1997 Aged Care Act, which the commission recommended should be done by no later than July, 1 2023. The commission said the act should include a general, positive, and non-delegable statutory duty to provide high quality and safe care.

The commission concluded that the 1997 Act – which is the current law that covers government-funded aged care – had been motivated by the Howard Government’s desire to achieve billions of dollars of budget savings through capping service provision.