As many of us will have family or friends that are in aged care and as many of us face the fact that we may need to be in an aged care facility in the not too distant future, it is I think, worth thinking about the impending Royal Commission into aged care in Australia.
Recent horror stories reported in the media and the ABC’s Four Corners Program aired in September have brought into the spotlight the urgent need for reform and closer scrutiny and monitoring of aged care facilities in this first world country with a growing older population.
There have been calls by COTA (Council of the Ageing, Australia) to make immediate changes to the system of public reporting in respect to the handling of complaints and serious care incidents in all nursing homes. Greater transparency has been called for so that older Australians and their families are able to view the history of complaints and any serious occurrences so that they can make informed decisions regarding the choice of a nursing home or aged care facility.
Currently in Australia there is a system in place in our aged care facilities where there is a pass or fail score as to whether standards are being met or not. A better system is required. One that highlights issues, that ensures they are rectified, that they are reported and available to those who need to know. In addition, it is time that those facilities that keep a high standard are rewarded. Maybe a system like hotels or restaurants with stars being awarded according to standard of excellence.
I have been sceptical of Royal Commissions due to the great expense and the possible political machinations behind them, but recent Royal Commissions have proven to me the necessity to look more seriously at the need for such actions which have uncovered serious breaches of trust and abuse by institutions that for many years were regarded as above reproach.
For those who do the right thing, there is nothing to fear but the time for complacency and blind trust has come to an end. We need to always be on the lookout and willing to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the well-being of our fellow human beings, young and old, rich and poor.