New aged care watchdog proposal slammed

Aged care advocacy groups fear the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissionwill not stop nursing home abuse.GOVERNMENT claims that a bigger, sharper-toothed aged care watchdog will prevent abuse innursing homes have been rubbished by a leading advocacy group, which warns the inhumanetreatment ofresidents will continue.

“The new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will not change what happens in nursinghomes or the quality of care provided because aged care standards are left untouched,” saidCombined Pensioners and Superannuants Association policy co-ordinator Paul Versteege.

As The Senior reported in March, the government was forced to act on the abject failure of then Aged Care Quality Agency. It followedpublic outrage and a damning Senate report intothe body’s failure to protect frail dementia patients, subjected to abuse and neglect at the Oakdenaged care mental health facility in Adelaide.

Paul Versteege believes the new aged care watchdog will be a toothless tiger.

A review of the agency’s audit system by former ACT chief minister Kate Carnell and ProfessorRon Paterson was equally condemning.

Paul Versteege believes the new aged care watchdog will be a toothless tiger.

“To treat the Oakden scandal as an aberration and the introduction of a new commission as thething that will prevent further scandal is nonsense,” Mr Versteege said.

“There will be further scandals and the inhumane day-to- day treatment of nursing home residentswill continue to be the rule not the exception.

“I have lost count of how many times the agencies responsible for auditing nursing homes andcomplaints have changed with much fanfare and claims that aged care in will improveimmeasurably.

“The new commission will not change anything until objectively measurable aged care qualitystandards are introduced and nursing homes are compelled to hire sufficient and adequatelytrained qualified staff to meet those standards.”

The independent one-stop- shop commission will bring together the roles of the quality agency,the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner and the aged care regulatory functions of theDepartment of Health. It will include a new chief clinical adviser.

The single agency is one of the recommendations of the Carnell-Paterson report. A furtherrecommendation of unannounced re-accreditation audits of aged care facilities has already beenimplemented.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said the commission, to be up and running on January 1, wouldgive people a single point of contact when they need help dealing with claims of sub-standardcare.

Further reforms include developing a serious incident response scheme, aperformance rating to show how individual nursing homes have performed against qualitystandards, and a user-friendly provider comparison tool on the My Aged Care website.

Other seniors’ organisations have been more enthusiastic about the new commission.

Council on the Ageing chief executive Ian Yates said the move was a “welcome step”towards rebuilding confidence that older ns will receive safe and appropriate care.

IanHenschke from National Seniors said while putting the functions of three aged care bodies into one could be a challenge, if well implemented, it should lead to better monitoring andearly detection of quality care issues.

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