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‘I’d rather die’: the horror stories of aged care don’t tell the whole story

Troubling media reports have undoubtedly contributed to the government announcement of a Royal Commission. It is vital that incidents of inadequate personal care, negligence, neglect, abuse and assault are reported. However, we hear much less about elderly people who are living happily in an aged care home.

Guardian

So Many Inquiries, So Little Action

How many inquiries, reviews, taskforces, think tanks, consultations and consultant reports does it take for the government to change a light bulb in an aged care home? Over the past year or so, the government has investigated, among other things, the aged care workforce, reforms, accreditation, complaints scheme, innovation, standards of care and elder abuse – and still the light globe remains unchanged.

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Aged Care Quality And Safety Commission: Shifting The Deck chairs On The Titanic

To be able to evaluate the proportion of aged care homes that provide high standards of care, researchers like myself need access to data. We need data on quality indicators such as pressure sores, medication errors, weight loss, falls, infection rates admissions to hospitals, staffing levels and training. However, these data are not publicly available.

Who decided that data on residents’ safety and wellbeing in aged care homes must be kept top secret? To answer this question, we need to go back more than 20 years when the Aged Care Act 1997 was drafted. John Howard’s Coalition government proved a turning point for aged care policy in Australia.

The Guardian

What is it like to work in an aged care home?

In recent years, there have been numerous heart-breaking stories about aged care homes. When stories about inadequate personal care, neglect, abuse and negligence are reported in the media, the aged care industry dismisses these stories as ‘one-offs’. But are they?

To answer this question, we need data from people who have first-hand experiences in aged care homes – residents, relatives and staff. They know what day-to-day life is like in aged care homes.

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