PM Turnbull The life of a nursing home resident is often one of misery. Will you help?

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In June of 2005, the Australian Senate Community Affairs References Committee published the findings of its exhaustive examination into the aged care sector. The full report, which is entitled Quality and Equity in Aged Care, can be found upon the following link:

Having acquainted myself with the operations of the Aged Care Complaints Scheme and the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency, the wording of the Aged Care Act and spoken widely to knowledgeable individuals and institutions in regard to the appalling care metered out to many nursing home residents throughout Australia, I believe that the most important recommendation is that pertaining to the Accreditation Standards/Outcomes.

The following excerpt from the Committee's report speaks powerfully to what I have in mind:

"The Committee believes that the Accreditation Standards are too generalised to effectively measure care outcomes. The wording of the Standards necessarily lead to varying levels of service being provided in homes because the Standards are open to widely different interpretations by providers and assessors. The Committee believes that the Accreditation Standards need to be defined more precisely so that standards of care in aged care facilities can be delivered - and measured - in a consistent manner across all aged care facilities."

The language used in the Aged Care Accreditation Standards/Outcomes is of such a vacuous nature as to be almost meaningless for the purposes of achieving any reasonable measure of scrutiny, transparency or accountability of the care provided to the 200,000 plus nursing home residents. Typical of the terminology would be phrases such as adequate hydration and nutrition, the management of incontinence, sufficient staff and optimization of resident mobility and dexterity, with, in each case, no supporting information as to exactly how the 44 Accreditation Outcomes are to be interpreted to mean.

Ten long years have elapsed since the recommendations of the Committee were tabled in the Federal Parliament and yet nothing has been done to substitute explicit Aged Care Accreditation Standards/Outcomes. Sadly, the peak bodies representing the interests of the providers, which can be starkly at odds with those of the increasingly frail, elderly residents, have forged very influential links with the major political parties and the bureaucracy and have thereby undermined the formulation and implementation of what is in the best interests of the public. This largely unrecognized and poorly understood corruption of public policy, which is all too common in many areas of public policy, must stop, if we are to restore confidence in the processes of government.

Prime Minister, on behalf of nursing home residents throughout Australia and their relatives, of which I include myself, I call upon you to belatedly accept this crucial recommendation of the Committee and distance yourself and your government from the often self-interested demands of the aged care lobbyists, who, no doubt, will strenuously resist any measure that will create a sound and effective basis for real accountability, scrutiny and transparency of the sector. The adoption of explicit Aged Care Accreditation Standards/Outcomes would bring about an almost immediate and demonstrable improvement in the care provided to nursing home residents and subsequently usher in a paradigm shift in the way we care for our elderly. Let this be the first step along this path!