At the beginning of 2017, the Oakland nursing home in South Australia broke the scandal of elder abuse. On September 16, 2018, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the establishment of the Royal Commission to deal with the quality and safety of the aged care industry.
The Royal Commission is a temporary public inquiry body established in a constitutional monarchy to investigate a problem, and its rights are even higher than judges. In the Australian government system, this is the highest form of investigation of public importance issues.
As a neutral investigation agency, the Royal Commission has the right to conduct investigations on the quality of services, service personnel and service charges for all aged care institutions. It may require the aged care agencies to submit relevant documents, financial statements, service personnel lists and backgrounds. As a research institution with no political party background, the Royal Commission can provide more substantive and constructive opinions for the two parties.
At the first hearing of the Royal Commission in Adelaide on February 11 this year, Peter Gray, a lawyer who assisted in the investigation, said that in the past 30 years, Australia’s aged care system has been too complicated and often solves problems locally. It is not about reforming the entire system. Although the aged care system has been subject to multiple investigations and reviews, it has a limited scope and cannot solve larger problems. Systemic problems in the aged care industry can result in a large number of older people being forced into hospitals, placing a significant burden on the already stretched public health system.
The Royal Commission’s investigation will last for 18 months, which will lead to major changes in the $20 billion aged care industry. In terms of the issuance of Home Care Packages, Michael Argent, president of Happy Living Home Care, predicts that the waiting time for waiting for home care packages will be shortened.
As of June 30 this year, 125,117 people are using the home aged care allowance, but at the same time there are still 119,524 people still waiting for approval. The formal waiting time for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th level allowances is still more than 12 months, and the waiting time is usually more than 18 months. Long waits will make the elderly’s life difficult to improve in a short period of time, and the result is likely that more elderly people will live in the nursing home.
In Australia, most of the funding for aged care comes from the government. In the 2016-17 financial year, the government directly spent about 17 billion Australian dollars, of which A$12 billion went to nursing homes. In order to control the unchecked growth of nursing homes, it is imperative for the government to increase the proportion of home care packages and shorten the waiting time for subsidies.
On September 18 this year, COTA Australia announced that the number of people waiting for the home care packages has declined for the first time, but said that the waiting time is still too long. CEO Ian Yates said that the Seniors Committee called for more home care packages to be approved in December and a new timetable to ensure that no one has to wait for more than three months in order to receive the allowance.
The Australian Ministry of Health told the Royal Committee that in order to reduce the waiting time to three months, it would cost between A$2 billion and A$2.5 billion per year. But Yates said that if the government finally takes action, the figure will be lower than expected.
Happy Living will continue to focus on the process of investigation and make relevant interpretations and predictions in the next few articles.