Probe into Aussie aged care sec­tor

PM or­ders or­gan­i­sa­tions to be ques­tioned over mis­treat­ment of the el­derly

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Sydney: Aus­tralia will launch a na­tional in­quiry into its scan­dalplagued aged care sec­tor, Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son said, fol­low­ing nu­mer­ous re­ports of abuse, ne­glect and mis­man­age­ment.

The an­nounce­ment comes a year af­ter a state-run de­men­tia nurs­ing home in South Aus­tralia state was shut when an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed hor­rific mis­treat­ment of el­derly res­i­dents over a 10-year pe­riod.

Since that scan­dal, the health de­part­ment has closed al­most one aged care ser­vice each month, while a grow­ing num­ber are fail­ing to meet stan­dards, Mor­ri­son said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

“In­ci­dences of older peo­ple be­ing hurt by fail­ures of care sim­ply can­not be ex­plained or ex­cused,” he added.

“We must be as­sured about how wide­spread th­ese cases are ... there clearly re­mains ar­eas of con­cern with re­gard to the qual­ity and safety of aged care ser­vices.”

The in­quiry will probe profit and non-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tions, and also look at the care given to younger Aus­tralians with dis­abil­i­ties liv­ing in such fa­cil­i­ties.

There has been a 177% leap in the num­ber of aged care homes where a “se­ri­ous risk” to res­i­dents was iden­ti­fied in the 2017-18 fi­nan­cial year, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment data re­leased to Sydney’s Sun­day Tele­graph.

The fig­ures also show a 292% in­crease in the num­ber of fa­cil­i­ties that were fall­ing sig­nif­i­cantly short of gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tions.

The prime min­is­ter said the royal com­mis­sion would be crit­i­cal in guid­ing how Aus­tralia copes with car­ing for its grow­ing el­derly pop­u­la­tion.

De­mand for ser­vices is ex­pected to surge as the “baby boomer” gen­er­a­tion born af­ter World War II swells the ranks of re­tirees.

Can­berra fund­ing for aged care is al­ready at record lev­els, reach­ing A$18.6bil (RM55­bil) in 2017-18. The gov­ern­ment ex­pects it to grow in the next five years by a fur­ther A$5bil (RM14.7bil).

Around one in seven Aus­tralians are aged 65 and above, ac­cord­ing to 2017 gov­ern­ment data, with the pro­por­tion of el­derly peo­ple tipped to reach 22% of the pop­u­la­tion by 2057. A damn­ing 146-page re­port re­leased in Fe­bru­ary cat­a­logued nu­mer­ous com­plaints of abuse and ne­glect at aged care fa­cil­i­ties.

Some of the worst cases raised in­cluded a 70-year-old at­tacked and killed by an­other el­derly res­i­dent, the use of re­straints, over­dos­ing of pa­tients and the in­de­cent as­sault of a 99-year-old woman by a male carer.

Ear­lier this month, a carer in Sydney was charged af­ter al­legedly as­sault­ing an el­derly man by pulling his shirt and hit­ting him re­peat­edly with a shoe.

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