Watchdog for seniors
Aged care reforms put nursing homes on notice
A NEW safety watchdog and critical incident response units will zero in on dodgy nursing homes to try to ensure Australians in aged care are treated with dignity and respect.
The federal government will today announce a sweeping overhaul of the aged care system, which looks after 1.3 million senior citizens, following a string of horrifying nursing home scandals.
An independent commissioner will be put in charge of safety and quality standards, giving older people and their families and friends a single point of contact to address problems with their care.
Aged care homes will be subject to tougher standards, which will apply to food and medical treatment, and will face unannounced inspections.
Care providers who break the rules face being named and shamed in an online register.
The government will also set up a serious incident response scheme with roving teams of experts to deal with crises such as last year’s flu outbreak at St John’s Village nursing home in Wangaratta, which claimed 10 lives. An audit found serious management failures and inadequate infection control: only 30 per cent of staff had had the flu vaccine before winter, and contingency plans to cope with an outbreak were inadequate.
“Our senior Australians have built the nation that we enjoy today,” Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt told the Herald Sun. “They have rightly earned the respect of the community and must be cared for with the dignity they deserve.”
Under the changes, to be in force by next January 1, aged care agencies will be merged in a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
“The unified new commission will be a responsive, onestop shop to prevent failures and highlight quality concerns and have them quickly rectified,” Mr Wyatt said.
A new Chief Clinical Adviser will advise the commission, particularly on complex clinical matters.
The reforms have been driven by a special taskforce on ageing, run by the Prime Minister’s office, which is also tailoring next month’s Budget to win over older voters.
The reforms follow warnings that the nation’s nursing homes need $33 billion of investment over the next decade.
The establishment of a commission is in response to a review of failures at South Australian’s Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service, which criticised the response to problems of elder abuse and neglect.