Aged care – the powerless are downhearted

Submissions to Australia’s Royal Commision into Aged Care close on 31 July 2020. Google those key words to find the easy-to-use online submission form.

Mine is brief, so I’ll repeat it here.

What would you like to tell the Royal Commission?

My overriding concern is the low standard of Australian aged care, and the way it is run by agencies to institutionalise inmates to their way of doing things. People lose their choices, their individuality, their privacy. They don’t choose their meals, their rooms, their clothes, their times of doing things, their activities, their companions. They are part of a system. They are supposed to co-operate in making things cheap and easy to run.

Forget human rights.

Is it any wonder that depression is so prevalent among residents? The powerless are downhearted.

Staffing is inadequate and underpaid. There is no ratio of skilled staff on duty at all times. Young people on temporary visas, supposedly being trained, provide what care they can for the lowest pay the organisation can arrange.

Whatever I write, whatever you report, the same old agencies will go on delivering much the same services. I only hope you can mandate a few legally enforceable improvements.

The death rates in aged care druing the COVID19 pandemic is in part a reflection of age and co-morbidities. But “hospital in the home” was clearly a failure at Newmarch House, which could not access trained staff, proper santised equipment, or implement secure infection control measures. NSW Health must bear some of the blame, but the dismal staffing practices in the sector were on stark display.

Undertrained, underpaid, casual staff are unable to meet the complex needs of such an emergency.

I urge you to make human rights the core message of your report.