Aged care exposed: Is the system failing for the vulnerable?

A second ABC Four Corners program on aged care, titled ‘Who Cares?’, continued to expose a system in need of wide-ranging reform.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe says dementia needs to be core business in the aged-care industry.

“What we are seeing on Four Corners is devastating for the residents, the families and everyone impacted by these revelations,” she said.

“In these instances, the system has failed our most vulnerable.

“On behalf of all Australians, we need to fulfil on our duty of care to the estimated 436,000 people living with dementia, especially when they need us the most, and maintain the dignity, respect and choice in care that all Australians deserve.

“Australians need to have confidence that when they, their families and loved ones are a client of aged care that they will be treated with the utmost respect and provided with the best healthcare system supports, along with a team of staff who have current dementia training, knowledge and qualifications.

“As the national peak body advocating for the rights of people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, we have a responsibility to act for all those impacted, and it is clear the system has flaws.

“With more than 50 per cent of people living in residential aged care living with dementia, and many more in early or undiagnosed stages, it is essential that developing and implementing national quality standards in dementia care is escalated to a high-priority level in all national and state planning.

Dementia Australia is calling for a systemic focus on education and building the skill level of the workforce to manage the multiple complex conditions of many clients in care.

“The importance of staff understanding when to escalate care to dementia-specialist teams like Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and Severe Behaviour Response Teams must be a crucial element of all dementia training.”

In related news, the number of complaints received by the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner in the past year increased by 23 per cent. The Commissioner’s 2017-18 annual report also shows that 1,073 cases were referred by the Commissioner to the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency, a rise of 130 per cent over the previous year.

The report was tabled in federal parliament this week by the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Ken Wyatt.

“This report indicates increasing awareness of the capacity of the Complaints Commissioner and growing concern about aged-care issues, with a record 5,779 complaints received,” the minister said. “While significantly more people are using the national service, the data shows that most of their complaints are being managed effectively, with 73 per cent resolved within 30 days and 93 per cent resolved within 90 days.”

Each complaint is triaged, based on the circumstances and seriousness of the complaint.