New watchdog for aged care promises to ensure nursing homes are up to standard
A new watchdog for aged care begins operating today, and promises more random checks and audits of nursing homes.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has been set up in the wake of a series of scandals involving the mistreatment of elderly residents, which sparked a royal commission into the sector.
The revelations of the abuse and neglect of residents at the Oakden aged care facility in South Australia were shocking when they came to light.
A key recommendation from the South Australian review was for the Commonwealth to merge the body in charge of accrediting nursing homes with the body that dealt with complaints about them.
Commissioner Janet Anderson, the woman in charge of the newly formed Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, said the body would provide a one-stop shop for older people and their relatives who had questions or concerns about an aged care provider.
“More than $48 million is being used to ramp up compliance checks and risk management, including the recruitment of additional compliance officers or quality surveyors and complaints officers,” she said.
More staff, better paid staff
Ian Yates, head of the Council on the Ageing, said having one central group looking after quality standards and complaints would be easier for consumers and families.
“[Then] you can’t fall between the cracks of different government agencies,” he said.
He said having better staff was more important than more staff.
“What we want to see is improved quality of training, improved recruitment, new career paths and more staff and better paid staff across aged care.”
It will look in to the quality of aged care, including how to best help those with dementia and disabilities and how to improve the workforce.
With more than 1 million older Australians getting support, having enough aged care workers who are well qualified is a challenge.
Some families want nursing homes to be forced to have more staff.
But Ms Anderson is not sure about that.
“I think we need to be careful not to reach for it as the panacea, but I am very open to a conversation,” she said.
The royal commission into aged care will deliver an interim report in October and a final report in early 2020.