IT’S TIME TO ADDRESS THE QUALITY OF RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE
Today our President Ita Buttrose spoke at the National Conference of Aged Community Services Australia about doing more to raise the profile of aged care. Who could forget that during the first Leaders’ Debate in the recent election neither leader could quite recall what aged care reform was all about.
In particular, issues surrounding the quality of residential aged care need to become more prominent on the political and social agenda. Over the past several years, consumers have shared with us stories of their experiences of residential aged care – some are good but there are many of concern.
There are dedicated, compassionate people who are working hard every day to provide the best care they can. But what is concerning is that a minority of facilities are not providing good care, and residents are not being respected and, in some cases, are subjected to physical or psychological abuse. We need urgent action to ensure that good quality residential aged care is the norm.
During her talk, Ita launched two publications.
The first publication from Alzheimer’s Australia, Quality of Residential Aged Care: The Consumer Perspective, discusses from a consumer perspective concerns about the quality of care in a minority of residential aged care facilities. It puts forward strategies to address these concerns and seeks a higher priority for tackling them.
The aim is to bring providers, unions, consumers and Government together to ensure minimum standards are in place and being upheld for residents and to develop a more consumer-oriented system in the monitoring, assessment and complaints processes. This way we can begin to lay the basis for continuous improvement in quality care.
Two lines of action are proposed. Firstly, to take the short-term action necessary to give consumers greater confidence in the complaints scheme and accreditation and to ensure minimum standards are in place and being upheld for all residents.
Secondly, to develop a more consumer-oriented system by the greater involvement of consumers in the monitoring, assessment and complaints processes and by much greater transparency in the care outcomes being delivered. Funding issues are important but equally so are leadership and a culture that respects the rights and dignity of older people.
Many of the strategies proposed have been the subject of consideration before but the opportunity to make significant changes to the system has not presented itself as it does now with the current aged care reforms.
The second publication from Alzheimer’s Australia with the support of Eli Lilly, Collaborating for a better future for Australians with Alzheimer’s disease, provides recommendations on a way forward for developing a more integrated system of care. It proposes that we can do much better in creating a more seamless system of support where connections are made between GPs, community supports, hospitals and the aged care system. The report is an important reminder that if the quality of dementia care is to improve, coordinated action is necessary across the health and the aged care system. The first step in achieving this system would be the development of a new National Framework for Action on Dementia for agreement by Commonwealth and State Health Ministers.
I encourage you to share these papers with your local Federal Member for Parliament or Senator and if they are not already a Dementia Champion ask them to become one to help achieve quality care outcomes for all Australians.
Glenn Rees, AM
CEO Alzheimer’s Australia