Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

PM to turn royal commission spotlight on aged care sector

The Morrison government will establish a royal commission into the aged-care sector in response to damning incidents of neglect, abuse and negligence in nursing homes across the country.

"With more Australians exercising their choice to stay at home for longer, this means that when Australians are entering residential aged care these days they are doing so with more acute needs", he said. It will not specifically investigate retirement villages, despite revelations of exploitation of the elderly in those settings, however it will cover the Commonwealth services received by those residents.

But the terms of reference have not yet been determined.

Aged and Community Services Australia, which represents about 700 not-for-profit providers, has also welcomed the inquiry.

"We are committed to providing older Australians with access to care that supports their dignity and recognises the contribution that they have made to society", Mr Morrison said in a statement.

The prime minister said Australia was a world leader in aged care, and most operators and carers were outstanding.

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

The Prime Minister's announcement also follows the alleged abuse of David Nabulsi, 82, in a Bupa aged care facility in Seaforth on Sydney's northern beaches.

'But the best teams will always want to do better, and will always want to be honest about the performance of the sector as a whole'.

There has been a 177 per cent leap in the number of aged-care homes where a "serious risk" to residents were identified in the 2017-18 financial year, according to government data released to Sydney's Sunday Telegraph.

Since that scandal, the health department has closed nearly one aged care service each month, while a growing number are failing to meet standards, Morrison said in a statement. Official figures show a further 17 aged-care facilities now have sanctions imposed.

The royal commission will also look into the challenge of caring for young people. Complaints about home and community care rose from about 3900 to 5780 in the same period.

Earlier this year, Labor leader Shorten said the opposition wanted to make aged care "a central national issue" but he was unconvinced a royal commission into the sector was warranted.

"Aged care, be it the treatment of the staff, be it the funding model, be it the inspection standards, be it the interface, with having properly trained people, be it making sure there's just enough money".

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