After being established in early October 2018, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety set out to investigate the condition of aged care around Australia to determine what measures were needed to improve the system. Despite receiving thousands of submissions from facilities documenting abuse, the final report won’t be provided until April 2020. This means, as long as inquiries are pending, sufferers will likely have to wait a while before improvements are implemented.
What has the inquiry being told so far?
The inquiry, which began hearing evidence in Adelaide on Monday 11 February, heard tragic claims surrounding the topics of assault and malnutrition from various aged care facilities.
Speaking to ABC News, CPSA policy coordinator Paul Versteege said that malnutrition rates in residential aged care facilities can reach in excess of 50 per cent.
“We are talking about people who have moved into care and are still malnourished – that is a very obvious breach of safety.”
Unfortunately, while rates of malnutrition and assault were high, it was revealed that the model was flawed as it relied on staff to report any issues.
“In many facilities they are not even recorded. We can assume that it happens a lot,” said Versteege.
Dementia versus the ageing population
When giving evidence to the commission, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) health and disability branch program manager Justine Boland said the percentage of the Australian population aged over 85 is expected to double by 2066. This is made worse by the staggering amount of residents living with cognitive impairment conditions such as dementia. This condition typically affects those in the older age bracket. Today, Dementia Australia estimates there are just under half a million Australians living with the condition, but in line with Boland’s estimations, Counsel assisting Peter Gray QC estimates dementia figures will double by 2050.
With side effects such as mental decline and an inability to remember conversations, care staff may not believe their allegations, and those living with dementia may not even remember abuse at all.
Waiting lists struggling to keep up with demand
The rapid rise in the ageing population was also attributed to problems with long wait lists for aged care facilities. Chief executive of The Older Persons Advocacy Network Limited, Craig Gear, explained that hundreds of elderly people were waiting to access Federal Government home care packages which would allow them to live comfortably and independently at home.
“At the moment, that is equating to 18 to 24 month-waiting times and we would say that’s not acceptable and older people are telling us it’s not acceptable.”
While inquiries are still underway, help is still a possibility for those suffering as a result of negligent aged care facilities. If you believe a loved one is at risk of harm, get in touch with the medical negligence lawyers at Gerard Malouf & Partners today to see how we can help.