Thursday, May 30, 2024

1 in 3 aged care residents suffers neglect

One in three aged care residents in Australia suffers neglect, a damning Royal Commission report has revealed.

The final report and its 148 recommendations was publicly released yesterday after a two-year inquiry which heard countless tales of widespread abuse and neglect in Australian nursing homes.

The Royal Commission determined that up to 18% of residents had been either physically or sexually assaulted while in care.

It also found more than 30% of residents had experienced substandard care due to poor quality service by some providers and ‘fundamental systemic flaws’ in aged care system design and governance.

In one case study outlined in the report, NSW woman, Kay Gray placed her husband, who suffered from dementia, into a Mildura nursing home for two weeks of respite care.

She says her husband, Clive, arrived at the residential aged care facility in good health but was removed just 10 days later due to an alarming decline in his condition.

Kay says he was left in a wheelchair, was dehydrated and had contracted a urinary tract infection while in the facility. She says he was thirsty, unshaved, unshowered and wearing dirty clothes during his time in respite care.

The report found up to half of nursing home residents suffered malnutrition and dehydration because of poor-quality, cheap, and bland food served in facilities.

Shockingly, the Commission estimates there were as many as 44,131 alleged assaults in aged care homes in 2018-19, including up to 50 sexual assaults.

“This is a disgrace and should be a source of national shame,” the commissioners wrote in the report.

“People receiving aged care deserve better. The Australian community is entitled to expect better,” the commissioners wrote.

The report stated that the Government’s restraint on spending in the sector had led to the current regulatory arrangements, described by the Commission as ‘weak and inefficient’.

Commissioner Lynelle Briggs said successive governments had ‘misunderstood and not fulfilled their responsibilities’ on governance of the sector.

“At times in this inquiry, it has felt like the government’s main consideration was what was the minimum commitment it could get away with, rather than what should be done to sustain the aged care system,” Commissioner Briggs wrote.

In response, the Federal Government announced it would inject $425 million into the aged care sector, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison¬†called the Commission’s findings as ‘harrowing’ and ‘deeply distressing’.¬†

The Commissions’ recommendations included faster approval of home care packages to clear the current waiting list and restricting the use of anti-psychotic drugs in nursing homes.

Another recommendation accepted by the Federal Government was for the provision of one or more trained infection control officers to be employed as a condition of aged care facility accreditation, following last year’s harrowing aged care COVID-19 outbreaks.

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