Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety delays report
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety reporting period has been extended by the Federal Government for three months until 26 February 2021.
This takes into account the royal commission’s three-month suspension of hearings and workshops due to COVID 19. To read more about this announcement, please go to Australian Ageing Agenda.
General submissions from the public closed on 31 July, 2020, but the royal commission’s public hearings are continuing.
The royal commission is also now examining the impact of COVID-19 and the response to the pandemic, with the hearing on COVID-19 commencing on 10 August 2020. Public submissions about the pandemic will remain open until Friday, 4 September 2020. For more information go to COVID 19 submissions.
As at 5 June 2020, more than 8600 submissions had been received since the initial call for submissions was announced in December 2018.
To keep up to date with their public hearings please go to the commission’s public hearings page which are broadcast live on the dates indicated.
On 23 July 2020, the commission released a research report based on what the community are telling them: Australia’s aged care system: assessing the views and preferences of the general public for quality of care and future funding.
If you have concerns about any aged care services you or someone you know is receiving, try to resolve the issue directly with the provider. If you’re unhappy with their response, you can make a complaint directly to the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission, which is the regulatory body that investigates complaints. You can lodge a complaint online or in writing, or by phoning 1800 951 822.
Commission’s interim report: Neglect
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.
Entitled Neglect, the interim report found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required. The Interim Report sets out the extent of the failure of Australia’s aged care services and what the Royal Commission has learned to date.
In the report Commissioners the late Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs describe the many problems that older people and their families have in trying to get access to aged care services, service shortfalls, the dispiriting nature of residential care, serious substandard care and unsafe practice, an underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce, and isolation of young people with disabilities.
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 at home
- to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care
- 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.
Tabled in the Australian Parliament on 31 October, 2019, the Interim Report is in three volumes and is available on the Royal Commission’s website along with an extract from the foreword, ‘A Shocking Tale of Neglect’. It covers much, but not all, of the work of the Royal Commission through to September 2019. The Commission is due to hand down their final report in February 2021.
COTA Australia welcomes reality check
COTA Australia welcomed the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report. It confirms that neglect, abuse and poor care are more widespread than governments and many providers have been prepared to accept, but which COTA has called out over many years.
COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates welcomed the acknowledgement from the Commission that older Australians are neglected. For further comment go to COTA Australia’s media release.
So what is the Royal Commission into Aged Care?
A royal commission is the highest level of public inquiry in Australia. Its main functions are to investigate an issue, produce a report and make recommendations to government. This work is informed by extensive input from members of the community, who are invited to share their concerns about the matter/s being investigated.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established by the Federal Government in 2018 in response to growing concerns about the quality of aged care in Australia.
What have we heard from older people about aged care services in Victoria?
COTA Victoria travelled around the state in 2019 to encourage older people to make a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We hosted nine information sessions, mostly in partnership with seniors’ groups and councils and listened to almost 300 consumers, carers and family members share their stories.
The goal of the sessions was to empower older people with the know-how and confidence to write their own submission or help someone else write one.
Across all the sessions, a number of themes were recurring, among them:
- how older people are disempowered in places run like institutions
- ageism from family, staff and society
- system failures such as the quality and cost of care, wait lists, inadequate staffing and poorly-constructed aged care packages
- transport issues and costs that leave people isolated
- challenges for people when English is their second language and their different cultural needs are not met
- differences in education and experience of life that are not understood or supported
- difficulties for older people with disability, particularly the disconnect between the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the aged care system.
COTA Victoria has collated feedback from nine consumer sessions hosted across the state to contribute to COTA Australia’s submission. To read more, go to: What we want in aged care.
A small number of people who tell their stories to the royal commission via a submission were asked to give evidence at public hearings. This was the experience of COTA Victoria’s staunch aged care advocate, Merle Mitchell, who gave evidence at a public hearing in Sydney in 2019.To hear the witness statement Merle gave via video link from her nursing home, go to the royal commission audio recording from Monday 6 May.
What will this Royal Commission consider?
The Royal Commission will explore issues relating to care that is provided in residential settings as well as care that is provided in the home. The exact issues to be considered are set out in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety’s Terms Of Reference.
The Royal Commission is interested in events that have taken place since 1 July, 2013, or issues that are still of relevance now.
The Royal Commission does not have the power to:
- resolve individual complaints
- award compensation
- order another party, such as an aged care provider, to take action
- make criminal charges against individuals or providers, although criminal proceedings can follow from a royal commission’s findings.
Contacting the Royal Commission
You can contact the Royal Commission in any of the following ways:
Phone: 1800 960 711
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
GPO Box 1151,
Adelaide SA 5001
To contact COTA Victoria’s policy staff about the Royal Commission please email: email@example.com