The royal commission report should give the Australian government a plan to fix aged care. Will they act on it?
The royal commission enabled older people and families to tell their stories. A 105-year-old woman living in an aged care home was the oldest witness to give evidence. Hearing firsthand accounts has illustrated the failures in the aged care system.
The royal commission also released 20 research papers. This research will enable an evidence-based approach to aged care policy. For far too long, aged care policy has been based on opinion.
On February 26, the commissioners will release their final report. The counsel assisting’s 124 recommendations provide a glimmer of hope that the final report will outline a plan to fix aged care. But will the government act on the recommendations?
The federal government had no pandemic plan for aged care or quarantine. Scott Morrison not only failed to coordinate a national approach to quarantine and aged care but he and his colleagues sat on the sidelines providing unhelpful commentary. Rather than show leadership, the federal government chose to politicise the pandemic.
Australia has one of the highest rates in the world of deaths in residential aged care as a proportion of total Covid-19 deaths. A recent Senate inquiry noted that deaths in aged care homes “account for 74.6% of all deaths from Covid-19 in Australia”.
Many of these deaths could have been prevented had the federal government prepared the aged sector for the pandemic. In the months since the first outbreak in aged care, the government has indulged in semantics and repeated attempts to shift the blame.