• Tony Bosworth

Aged care system letting down elderly people, their unpaid carers, and aged care staff – forum hears

The quality of aged care services in facilities and the home, as well as funding transparency, were high on the agenda at two public forums this week at Clarendon and North Richmond.

Labor’s Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing, Ged Kearney, travelled to the Hawkesbury for the forums held on Monday where around 70 people shared their experiences with aged care.

Macquarie MP Susan Templeman and Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing, Ged Kearney, address the aged care forum at North Richmond this week

“Many local residents raised issues such as the difficulty navigating the MyAgedCare online system, confusing jargon associated with aged care services, and the long wait for home care for loved ones,” said organiser of the event, Macquarie MP Susan Templeman.

“Several aged care workers also attended and voiced their concerns over available funding for their clients and the transparency of taxpayer funds given to providers by the government.”

Ms Kearney said a big issue raised at the forums was the difficulty getting home care packages for many older people who wanted to stay in their own homes as they aged.

“More than 27,000 people have died waiting for home care packages that had been approved in the last two and a half years. People can get onto the first rung, but it’s almost impossible to get reassessed when their needs become greater,” Ms Kearney said.

“Then, of course, there are other concerning issues around some aged care facilities. While many do really care and are doing the right thing, there’s a critical group identified by the recent Royal Commission where there were shocking stories of neglect.

“The Federal Government spends $21 billion of taxpayer funds on aged care each year, but the amount of accountability they get back is pitiful,” said Ms Kearney.

Ms Templeman said the Royal Commission showed there were serious problems with the sector.

“We can measure society by the way we care for the most vulnerable, and people keep telling me it’s time the Federal Government started caring about aged care – a sector it is 100 per cent responsible for,” Ms Templeman said.

“It’s past time for serious reform.

“We know there’s a better way; we know what to do, and it’s not rocket science. It’s addressing issues such as more staff who can spend more time with residents, and having Registered Nurses (RNs) present on every shift in an aged care facility.

“It’s about having minimum qualifications for staff to maintain standards, better training and resources, and a surge workforce strategy in place.

“It’s about having a regulator with teeth to ensure standards are being met, and funding transparency and accountability so people know where their loved ones’ money is being spent.

“I would like to thank the many people who came along and shared their stories in what was sometimes a very emotional experience. Your examples again showed how the system is letting down elderly people, their unpaid carers, and aged care staff.

“We are on your side, and I will continue to push for the necessary changes so that those who helped build our country - and who are now among our most vulnerable – are treated with dignity.”

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