Commission on aged care a good call
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision at the weekend to call a royal commission into aged care is timely because our nation will soon be facing waves of baby boomers needing help with the many medical and emotional challenges of getting old.
Our aged-care system begins with networks of family and friends, then goes to voluntary and semi-funded community care, then into more formalised home care arrangements and reaches its end with nursing homes.
At each level of this ageing and care cycle there is the potential for abuse and neglect, including by Federal authorities who right now are delaying funding of formalised Home Care Packages by up to 12 months.
Just like with the financial services royal commission, we are going to hear an array of horror stories about abuse and neglect.
We will doubtless see more revelations of how bureaucracies beholden to so-called stakeholders get so bogged in processes and humbug that they are slow to act on reports of appalling conduct.
But amid the noise and the distaste, it is essential that we try to grasp just what programs, funding, supervision and enforcement Australia will need as we baby boomers head towards our 70s and beyond.
Many of us will need help staying in our homes as long as possible so taxpayers don’t have to spend tens of billions of dollars on costly residential aged care.
People of limited means will need help making their homes as safe as possible.
We will need education and financially sustainable ways to ensure that we get the care we need at the right time. Governments will need to fund advocacy services such as Advocare.
We must ensure people are not prematurely forced into residential care and that care is right for their individual needs.
The State parliamentary report and the new royal commission are all part of attempts to deal with the same challenges.
We should be grateful that our political leaders are taking these issues seriously.