Every effort is being made by Scott Morrison to avoid facing this issue head on. Yet from Abbott to Morrison Aged-Care has always been ignored. If it were given any attention it only been to make it a cheaper rather than a better service. (ODT)
Numerous inquiries, reviews and consultations over the years have provided mounds of evidence of negligence, neglect and abuse in residential aged care homes. Yet the recommendations have mostly been ignored. Now we watch in horror as the number of elderly residents who die from Covid-19 continues to climb. The government is eventually going to have to explain to the nation how this entirely predictable tragedy occurred on its watch, writes Dr Sarah Russell.
About two-thirds of our 331 COVID deaths have been of aged Australians. From the outset it was known that the deaths would be concentrated among the aged. Indeed, Australia has one of the highest aged death rates from COVID-19 in the world.
How was the virus allowed to run from one aged-care facility to another, from one aged-care cluster to another, without a decisive response?
The federal government has a clear, overarching responsibility for aged care, but this week it has moved to blatant blame-shifting. The Minister for Aged Care, Richard Colbeck, has told us that while the federal government is “responsible for the management and regulation of aged care”, it is the responsibility of the states to “manage the pandemic” because they are “responsible for the public health response”. What semantics. What a copout.
The For-Profit Aged-Care Industry Has Led to Catastrophe
The epicenter of Melbourne’s COVID-19 outbreak is, predictably, aged-care homes, where years of marketization have led to an industry based on low wages, understaffing and cost cutting. Amid the tragedy taking place in aged care, we need to call for an overhaul of the entire for-profit system.
Albanese has been onto it, saying that Morrison must answer why he has made no effort to clean up these privately owned Aged Care Homes where profit comes before human health.
I for one would love to hear his answers.
Scott Morrison Named (ODT)
A former Coalition minister has slammed the federal government’s handling of aged care and called for major structural change in a submission that exposes years of failure to help older Australians.
One of Tony Abbott’s own ministers after the 2013 election, Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, says the government has not had the political fortitude to fix the sector after spurning calls for action when it took power.
She also names Prime Minister Scott Morrison as one of the ministers of the social service responsible for aged care in the federal cabinet during the time she says the government squandered a chance for reform.
The real issue, however, is that the aged care system is simply not fit for purpose in normal times and so was inevitably destined to fail when under this sort of extreme pressure.
Hunt on Tuesday praised the care his late father received in a home. “I cannot imagine better care that my family and my father could have got.”
But Andrews said “I wouldn’t want my mum in some of these places”, an observation many distraught families will relate to.
The interim report of the royal commission into aged care, released late last year, was scathing, declaring older people and their families were left “isolated and powerless in this hidden-from-view system”.
COVID has provided a tragic real time vindication of the commission’s observation.
The deaths of 80 elderly people are imminent as a result of COVID-19 spreading through private aged care homes. Aged care behemoths were granted an extra $200m to cope with the pandemic but refuse to provide critical paid pandemic leave to an overwhelmingly casualised workforce, claiming it’s the government’s responsibility. The government says the buck stops with aged care operators. Meanwhile, Victoria’s publicly owned homes, with mandated staffing requirements, have few reported cases of COVID-19. Dr Sarah Russell investigates.
Compare this with staffing in privately owned residential aged care homes, where a single registered nurse is often required to look after more than 100 residents.
Not surprisingly, data from the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission indicates outbreaks in Victoria are almost exclusively a private sector aged-care issue. State-owned nursing homes comprise about 200 of the 750 in Victoria, but of the 66 aged care homes that have reported a COVID case since June, just six are state-government run.
The Federal Government’s protection of “a few big interests” was on show last week when it voted against accountability proposals from the Royal Commission into Aged Care. Public health researcher, Dr Sarah Russell, reports.
A couple of days before the Four Corners investigation, Who Cares, was to air, Scott Morrison rushed to announce a Royal Commission into Aged Care. This was a government turnaround directly in anticipation of the damning ABC expose.
When interviewed for the program about a month earlier, Wyatt had said a royal commission would be an unnecessary move because the Government was already reviewing the sector.
“A royal commission, after two years and maybe $200 million being spent on it, will come back with the same set or a very similar set of recommendations,” he said, preferring to see that money go towards frontline aged care services.
Emails revealed at the RC show a flurry of activity in response to programs on the ABC whilst reports from the department on how to address the problems languished on the Minister’s desk.
Protecting his precious surplus, Morrison is willing to let people die while waiting for help.
Not only that, he wants kudos for calling yet another inquiry into a crisis of his party’s making in its never-ending pursuit of profit and deregulation
Anticipating the program, and the likely response to its stories of neglect, poor food and failures of care, newly installed Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into the $22-billion-a-year sector.
But there was more bad publicity to come. In January, 7.30 broadcast a story about the use of chemical and physical restraints in some nursing homes, which sent further shockwaves through the community.
Governments often make funding announcements when they are in a political tight spot, and need to look like they are doing something.
But the particular nature of the $320 million payment announced in February — then re-announced in March — then re-announced in the federal budget — has caused disquiet even among those who benefit from it, the owners and shareholders of residential aged-care facilities.
Well, the sector says that, since 2014, between pausing and reducing indexation of ongoing residential care subsidies, rejigging the funding formula and other changes, the current Government has reduced funding to the sector by about $3 billion.