MP Ken Wyatt.
MP Ken Wyatt. Mike Knott

Pollies speak on aged care issue

MP Ken Wyatt

Federal aged care minister

The care, health, safety and wellbeing of older people in aged care services are of paramount importance to the Turnbull Government.

Currently underway are two priority projects to ensure aged care standards and regulations are relevant and responsive to residents' rights and needs.

For several years, we have been working with consumer groups and the aged care sector to develop a new and unified set of aged care quality standards, with the latest draft standards released for public comment in March.

In May, I launched an independent Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes.

It is consulting widely with aged care consumers, and has convened 39 meetings with key groups and received more than 400 public submissions.

The review is also examining improvements to increase immediate detection and swift remediation of failures in care by providers.

It is due to report to me on September 29 and I will carefully consider its recommendations, to ensure older Australians - the people who built this nation - receive the quality aged care they deserve.

MP Julie Collins

Opposition ageing spokeswoman Julie Collins did not submit a reply to the NewsMail's questions.

MP Keith Pitt

Hinkler

An independent Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes is being conducted and will report to Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt.

The review panel has convened 39 meetings with key groups and has received over 400 public submissions.

The review is also examining improvements to increase immediate detection and swift remediation of failures in care by providers.

Commonwealth law requires approved providers of aged care homes to meet quality standards to ensure quality care and services are provided to all care recipients.

The standards cover a range of outcomes including nutrition and hydration, human resource management, and health and personal care.

The Department of Health is also currently working with the sector and consumer representatives to develop a single set of aged care quality standards, that require personal and clinical care services to be delivered in accordance with the consumer's needs, goals and preferences to optimise health and wellbeing.

The draft standards also require that each consumer is treated with dignity and their identity, culture and diversity are respected.

Once the outcomes of the independent Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes are known their impacts on the draft standards will be considered and any required adjustments will be made.

The standards will then be tested with a small group of providers.

The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (Quality Agency) assesses and monitors the performance of residential aged care services against these quality standards through audits and at least one unannounced site visit per year.

Anyone that has concerns about the care or services someone is receiving in aged care should contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner by calling 1800 550 552.

MP Leanne Donaldson

Bundaberg

The Australian Government is responsible for the funding and regulation of the national aged care system.

Significant reforms to the aged care system have been underway in recent years, particularly a move towards a consumer driven and market based national system.

The broad intent of the reform process is to provide high quality support, choice and control for consumers, encourages independence, accessible, affordable, recognises diversity, is safe for consumers and enhances quality of life.

Consulting with the community I am aware that family members of residents in some of our aged care facilities are very concerned about the status of care being given to residents. 

They feel that the number of staff on the floor is inadequate for the needs of the resident to be given in a timely manner. 

They also tell me they have noticed a vast reduction in the number of registered nurses and now locally we also hear of enrolled nurse positions being made redundant.

The Palaszczuk Government made a historic decision last year to implement staff ratios in our public system.

This is something the Federal Government should also be doing as a matter of urgency in aged care facilities.

The QNMU held a rally this week. People can show their support by signing the petition at www.megaphone.org.au/p/bluecare

People who have complaints about aged care can contact the following agencies:

The Aged Care Complaints Commissioner-

The number listed on the website is 1800 550 552 or visit www.agedcarecomplaints.gov.au.  

Queensland Aged and Disability Advocacy Inc.

QADA is an initiative of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. QADA operates throughout Queensland and is free, confidential, client directed & independent

Phone: 3637 6000 or 1800 700 600

Email: info@qada.org.au

Website: www.qada.org.au  

MP Stephen Bennett

Burnett

I do share the community's concerns and believe we all need to look after the most vulnerable in our community.

Clearly there are some issues within the aged care sector that have been exposed and I look forward to an increase presence in the age care sector to provide the services and clinical support to meet the needs of our most vulnerable. 

This appears to be a commercial decision by the provider however and I hope it hasn't been done purely to make short-term profits.

David Batt

LNP candidate for Bundaberg

Clearly there are some issues within the aged care sector that need to be reviewed and as a son to local aging parents, I can definitely relate to this.  Being born and bred here I have had grandparents and currently have other family members as residents of several of these aged care facilities across the city. You want to know they are well cared for.

Bundaberg has always been a caring community and I look forward to seeing those in the aged care sector providing increased support and services to those who are most vulnerable and unwell.

Jane Truscott

One Nation candidate for Bundaberg

It is distressing to know there have been multiple reports of poor personal care and neglect of residents living in aged care facilities.

We owe it to our older citizens to look after them and to ensure they receive the best care possible.

I believe there needs to be increased opportunity for state and federal governments to work together to assist aged care facilities in meeting their obligations for the delivery of safe and adequate staffing levels and care for their residents.

We need to go beyond defining Accreditation Standards; we need practical solutions.

Many facilities do a fine job in providing care but others could use further assistance in making this a reality.

Under Australian federal legislation, the Aged Care Act 1997 reads that approved providers must "maintain an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff to ensure that the care needs of the recipients are met”.

In Queensland, there is no prescribed nurse to resident ratios for private aged care facilities; in other words, there is nothing defining what an adequate number of appropriately skilled staff is.

On 1 December 2015, the Senate referred the matter of the future of Australia's aged care sector workforce to the Senate Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report.

The committee, chaired by Senator Rachel Siewert, tabled its report on 20 June 2017 in which the issue of staffing ratios was addressed.

Evidence was heard in support and against mandated staffing ratios.

Submissions in support of staffing ratios said a fixed ratio would assist to bring better patient outcomes, staff retention, and reduced health cost.

Those against mandatory staffing ratios argued this would stifle innovation and fail to account for changing care needs.

Additional staff was not the answer, but rather adequate training and competency.

An alternative approach was considered in which there should be a mandatory minimum nursing requirement.

The Committee concluded that a compromise to mandate minimum numbers of nurses should be considered and that there should be a registered nurse on site at all times.

Additional funding and support from government may be needed to meet such a mandatory minimum requirement.

As a Nurse Practitioner who has worked in the industry for several years, I have seen first-hand the challenges staff and management face to ensure the delivery of safe and quality care for residents living in an aged care facility.

I'd also like to see more consideration given to increased utilisation of Nurse Practitioners providing primary care for residents living in aged care facilities.

Nurse Practitioners can, in collaboration with the health care team, provide coordination and management of patient care for people living in the community.

They are typically unable to provide this level of care due to the limitations of current funding models.

It is through flexible and responsive models of care that aged care providers are better equipped to ensure safe and adequate care of aged care residents.

We owe it to our older citizens to look after them and to ensure they receive the best care possible.

Safe levels of staffing and on-site access to registered nurses are important strategies to do this.

This is common sense policy that is void of any political ideology and puts people before politics.



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