Thinking | 1 November 2019

A shocking tale of neglect: how will you respond to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report?

Health and Community Law Alert

‘A Shocking Tale of Neglect’ is the title of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report, released on 31 October. The report found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable citizens. The system does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, neglects them. Partner and leader of our Health & Community industry group Alison Choy Flannigan examines the report, which identified three areas where immediate action can be taken, and highlights why all boards and managers of aged care providers need to develop a response strategy to this report.

The Commissioners identified three areas where immediate action can be taken:

  • to provide more Home Care Packages to reduce the waiting list for higher level care;
  • to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care, including through the seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement; and
  • to stop the flow of younger people with a disability going into aged care, and speed up the process of getting out those young people who are already in aged care.

The interim report is now available to read on the Royal Commission’s website: https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/publications/Pages/interim-report.aspx

How will the aged care sector and government respond?

The report states that it is clear that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required. The Federal Government has already stated that ACFI is not fit for purpose and will be reviewed and has released a consultation paper on greater reporting of serious incidents – Hall & Wilcox has assisted LASA on a submission to Government on this.

Some providers of aged care have appeared before the Royal Commission to be defensive and occasionally belligerent in their ignorance of what is happening in the facilities for which they are responsible. On many occasions when case studies were presented in hearings, providers were reluctant to take responsibility for poor care on their watch. Some providers have shown an unwillingness to accept that they could have, and should have done better. Others have, rightly, accepted this. Those providers who have demonstrated a commitment to building relationships with people receiving care and their families stood out in sharp relief.

We have been working with our clients who have a commitment for continuous improvement following their review of incidents of substandard care and improving their corporate and clinical governance.

We recommend that all Boards and managers of aged care providers read the report and decide on a strategy of how they will respond to this report and how they will engage with their stakeholders. Inertia is no longer an option. There are always ways to improve and it is time for change.

Contact

Alison Choy Flannigan

Alison Choy Flannigan

Partner & Leader, Health & Community

Alison specialises in advising clients in the health, aged care, disability, life sciences and community sectors. 

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