The first week of public hearings in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has now been completed.
Proceedings commenced in Adelaide on Monday with direct experience witnesses Barbara Elizabeth Spriggs and Clive Spriggs, both of whom are the family members of a resident at the Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service.
During the rest of the week, witnesses included representatives from COTA Australia, National Seniors Australia, Carers Australia, the Older Persons Advocacy Network, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian College of Nursing, and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, amongst others.
Throughout all of the statements given there have been consistent themes including access, workforce and service quality.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe is currently scheduled to address the Commission on Tuesday 19 February. We will publish her witness statement on the Dementia Australia website as soon as it has been published by the Royal Commission.
Ms McCabe recently commended the Royal Commission and its intention to conduct extensive consultation around the country during the first part of 2019, with a focus on dementia and learning from mistakes of the past.“An open forum for all involved in the aged care system to share their experience is essential to improving the safety of older Australians,” she said.
“The Royal Commission is already shining a light on deficiencies in the system and continuing this momentum will assist to shift the pace of change and reform.
“People living with dementia, their families and carers, providers, government and health professionals need to have a clear understanding of the path forward, and their roles and responsibilities, when it comes to legislation, financial management and market transparency. We anticipate the Royal Commission will help to achieve this.
“Fundamentally, we want to ensure that dementia is core business for the industry – not just in principle but in practice.
“We need to see legislative changes that address the over-use and inappropriate use of medications and restraints, a focus on quality dementia care through the new Aged Care Quality Standards, and a focus on workforce levels, training and education.
“The coming months may be challenging for many who have been directly impacted by dementia, bringing to light traumatic stories that may be confronting. Dementia Australia is here to support people living with dementia, their families and carers throughout this process and beyond and we encourage you to call the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500.
“We hope this focus on dementia through the Royal Commission will result in a future that supports not only people with dementia, their families and carers but all recipients of aged care services.”
To read Dementia Australia’s media releases and opinion editorials about the Royal Commission visit https://www.dementia.org.au/royal-commission
I would like to know where Dementia Australia was whilst all the terrible things were happening and some of us were desperately trying to be heard by, for example an Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt who did nothing about addressing the findings of the Standing Committee of Parliament he, of all ministers should be responding too. His response to my letter directly quoting from alarming evidence given to that Committee was ill informed and frankly pathetic. In that same period of time Dementia Australia made him a Dementia Friend. I want to know where all your funding goes because it certainly is not going to those who need it most. I have not seen any effective advocacy for the vast majority of people affected by dementia who are not articulate. The people you choose to represent those living with dementia, in the main represent the younger cohort, they still can present their case and do a good job. But surely your organisation ought first and foremost be speaking up on behalf of the many more who suffer for lack of strong and effective advocacy. I hope there are many more like me who are asking Ms McCabe where she was BEFORE Four Corners forced the Federal Government into action, much too late for many. Personally, since Glen Rees left, I have seen Alzheimer's Australia - now Dementia Australia (how much did that name change cost by the way), go steadily downhill as far as representing the majority of people with dementia and those who care about them, as I do.
Wonderful to see Maree's mention of workforce levels, education and training. This issue is central to realising quality care, despite the protestations of Government and the Industry.
The focus seems to be on the Age Care homes but the ability to keep dementia sufferers in their own home for as long as possible is the key to taking the pressure off the residential care facility,s as well as being most cost effective. With a dementia sufferer the only good care is one on one and this can never happen in a facility but is the fact with a carer at home. Age Care packages are a big help but could be even better at no extra cost to government if more of the package was available for the client and less taken up with, what seems to be, inflated overheads charged by the providers. Not only do the take a large percentage but also the hourly labour charges compared to what the workers get all combine to reduce the actual amount available for the client by over 50% when combined. The ability to self manage can be difficult in country areas as the pool of workers is limited as well as the extra hassle for the carer.
I hope you discuss the fact that many staff are provided with fantastic training but do not have the staff to support such training. I personally provided dementia training for staff and they were blown away with awareness. Back to work did not provide the staff nor time to put their new skills into practice so back to their old ways.