The first two rounds of public hearings for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have now been completed, with Dementia Australia heavily involved in the conversation.
Dementia Australia’s address
Hearings with witnesses commenced in Adelaide in February, during which Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe had the privilege of appearing as a witness on behalf of the organisation and all people living with dementia, their families and carers.
Ms McCabe called for mandatory dementia education for all aged care workers, and highlighted the need for a minimum level of dementia-specific training to become a national prerequisite to work in aged care across all parts of the system.
“The future has arrived. It is up to us to maximise this Royal Commission as a once in a generation opportunity to transform the industry and to make a profound and lasting difference to the lives of all people impacted by dementia,” Ms McCabe said.
“Dementia needs to be a priority for the health and aged care industries, a Federal election priority and an ongoing budget priority. Fundamentally we want to ensure that dementia is core business for the industry – not just in principle but in practice.
“I would like to thank Commissioners Briggs and Tracey for including Dementia Australia in this Royal Commission,” Ms McCabe said.
Direct experience witnesses
A number of direct experience witnesses have addressed the Royal Commission so far. Dementia Advocate Barrie Anderson featured as a witness on the closing day of the first round of hearings, talking eloquently and passionately about his and his wife’s experience in aged care.
During the second round of hearings, Dementia Advocate Lynda Henderson shared her experience of caring for friend Veda Meneghetti, who is living with frontal temporal dementia, and this testimony highlighted the importance and impact of timely and appropriate community support.
Dementia Australia thanks Barrie and Lynda for sharing their experiences and for their inspiring work as Dementia Advocates.
A focus on home care
During the second round of hearings, the spotlight fell on home care, a service sector which has not received especially close examination to date, meaning the attention of the Royal Commission will instil confidence in all people impacted by dementia that their voices are being heard.
“The lack of visibility and accountability around the home care system has been a concern reported by advocates and our clients for many years,” Ms McCabe said.
“The lack of appropriate dementia knowledge and skills in the home care workforce, the lack of transparency and accountability with the system of home care packages – both in their allocation and management – and the high turnover of the mostly casual workforce are the issues raised repeatedly by carers and people living with dementia in the community.
“Evidence provided by workers during the course of the Royal Commission suggests that anywhere from one quarter to half of clients receiving home care have dementia, but many do not receive a dementia supplement, nor is their diagnosis necessarily recorded.
“With more people choosing to stay in their homes for longer, the workforce needs to be appropriately trained to support people in the early stages of dementia, as well as when symptoms progress.
“Any organisation that takes on the care of a person living with dementia must commit to training their staff to ensure they are delivering quality dementia care in the home.
“We don’t know the qualifications of the workforce going into people’s homes, we don’t know if they’re equipped to provide the care needed by someone with the complex challenges dementia presents,” Ms McCabe said.
Other witnesses that have appeared before the Royal Commission so far include representatives from COTA Australia, National Seniors Australia, Carers Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian College of Nursing, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Leading Age Services Australia, Aged & Community Services Australia, Southern Cross Care, the Municipal Association of Victoria and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, among others.
We will continue to keep you informed about all developments relating to the Royal Commission as the proceedings progress.
All Dementia Australia updates on the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety can be found by visiting https://www.dementia.org.au/royal-commission
I support the above comments. In the context of residential care for people living with dementia, it needs to be understood that this is absolutely the last resort for families who have been caring for the person. When that step is taken it is usually because the family can no longer keep the person safe and well at home and realise it is time to pass the responsibility for primary care to professionals. So it is heartbreaking to find that once in care they are actually at higher risk of falls, infections and other hazards and yet from my experience and observation that is the case - especially for people who are still mobile and relatively strong. Facilities need more and much better trained staff in dementia care areas.
As not only a care worker but a trainer and assessor, I agree with the need for education. The more I have learned about dementia the more I understand the difficulties my clients have understanding the world as they see it now. I believe education should also involve primary carers and family, as this would lead to less behaviours of concern because the person living with dementia would have less incidents of frustration and miss-understandings.
As a Care Manager I agree Dementia Specific training needs to be compulsory and staff working in the Dementia Specific areas should be selected Ted on their skills knowledge and demonstrated ability to have an understanding of Dementia and the skills required to support the residents/ co dumets in facilities who live with Dementia. With trained committed staff these people can have quality and happiness in their lives.
This is a much better link https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx
There needs to be discussions about abuse of patients and the lack of appropriate staff numbers including staffing ratios. This is a huge area of concern to people with dementia