A drain on the budget for aged care

Don’t get me started! MyAgedCare is like Medicare … it’s draining the budget for aged care to the detriment of senior citizens, who have paid a lifetime of taxes to have their lives put though humiliating hoops, with no hope of receiving the services assessed by ACAT.

Priyabill
Adelaide South

Residential aged care

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With scandals such as that at a South Australian aged care facility for dementia patients – and more recently at multiple Queensland aged care facilities – where several deaths were caused by improper care, the sector has increasingly been under the spotlight.

The first report notes that five people associated with the now-closed South Australian facility were the subject of adverse findings of maladministration: the nursing director, the service manager, one doctor, a nurse and a health department official.

An official inquiry found there had been failures in clinical governance, incidents of rough handling of patients, excessive use of restraints and a high level of injuries.

Astonishingly, the inquiry found that “senior people, including some ministers and chief executive, who were responsible by virtue of their office for the delivery of care and services to the consumers, should have known what was going on but did not”.

Not all care shortfalls in aged care facilities have fatal outcomes. Nevertheless, many have serious consequences for the residents and their families.

Conversation starter

If you or a loved one has been in an aged care facility – or you have worked in one – we invite you to explore and have Your Say and explore any of the following sub-topics in this section of the website:

Aged care residents’ rights and responsibilities
Medication management
Clinical care
Resident meals (including fluids)
Communication
Companionship
Personal care
Hygiene, sanitation
Personal safety and security
Property loss or damage
Financial abuse
Falls, physical harm, abuse
End-of-life and palliative care
Deaths
Staffing in residential aged care

Staff:resident ratios
→ Training
Off-loading to hospitals

Have your say on aged care-2

Privacy statement

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Older People Speak Out (OPSO) – the publishers of the Your Say On Aged Care website – will only collect, store, use, disclose and destroy personal contact information in accordance with the Privacy Act 1988.

Schedule 1 to the Privacy Act 1988 contains the Australian Privacy Principles which regulate the way in which organisations such as OPSO can collect and use personal information.

The Your Say On Aged Care Privacy Policy below sets out the way in which OPSO complies with these principles.

Privacy Policy

Any time you complete a submission to the Your Say On Aged Care website – via the provided online or downloaded form – you will be prompted to provide personal and contact information.

Whether submitting on your own behalf, or on behalf of another individual who no longer has the access, ability or capacity, you will be required to provide personal and contact information relating to you as well as any individual/s for whom you may be acting.

Personal and contact details will be kept confidential, unless – in specific cases – you otherwise direct or grant permission for its release.

This personal and contact information may be used by OPSO to clarify or verify details provided.

Personal information will not be shared with a third party unless it is lawfully requested or there is an immediate risk to one or more individuals.

On the form, you will be given the option to receive communication from OPSO in the future and invited to become a member. You may accept or decline either offer.

In line with legislative requirements, OPSO will not use your details for communication unrelated to the Your Say On Aged Care project without your express permission.

OPSO will only use information you provide to external parties where such use is lawful.

If accidental or unauthorised use – or disclosure – occurs, OPSO will act quickly to rectify and remedy the situation.

All reasonable steps will be taken by OPSO to protect your personal and contact information from misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification or improper disclosure.

  • All paper files will be secured in locked cabinets
  • All information stored electronically can only be accessed by authorised OPSO personnel who have been apprised of their obligations under the Privacy Act
  • Our computer systems and databases are protected via firewalls, intrusion detection and other technologies.

Your personal information and contact details will be retained separately – for the duration of this project – from the descriptive content you provide that may be used for publishing online.

With any content you submit that is intended for publication, you may elect to remain anonymous or to use one or more suitable pseudonyms, however, you will be required to indicate the region from which the post is being made. This detail will be included with your published content.

At any time, you may request to access personal information held by OPSO about you or the person/s for whom you are acting and you may request correction of any inaccurate details.

The lifespan of the Your Say On Aged Care website is intended to be limited, with its closure likely to be at the end of 2018, unless otherwise required or notified.

At the time of the website’s closure, all personal information provided will be destroyed unless you have given permission for your details to be used for other purposes (such as receipt of OPSO emails or requested OPSO membership).

Your say on aged care form

PLEASE READ BEFORE COMPLETING FORM FIELDS:

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          will not be published without your prior permission
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        please download the form here and mail your completed form to:
    • Your Say on Aged Care
      c/- OPSO
      PO Box 1037
      Mt Gravatt Qld 4122.

      YOUR SAY ON AGED CARE FORM

 

Disclaimer

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The information contained in this website is for information and information-sharing purposes only.

This information is provided by OPSO and by those who contribute via its
Your Say on Aged Care Submission form.

While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on any linked website.

Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including, without limitation, indirect or consequential loss or damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data or funds arising out of, or in connection with, use of this website.

Through this website, you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of OPSO.

We have no control over the nature, content or availability of those sites. The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.

Every effort is made to keep the Your Say on Aged Care website up and running smoothly. However, OPSO takes no responsibility for, and will not be liable for, the website being temporarily unavailable due to technical issues beyond our control.

Copyright

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© Older People Speak Out 2018

While OPSO is the author of this website, it is immediately placing its textual content in the public domain.

Text from this site may be reproduced, with proper acknowledgment of the source, viz., Your Say on Aged Care website (yoursayonagedcare.com.au).

However, the copyright on images and illustrations on this site remains with the photographer and may not be reproduced without written permission which can be requested by contacting him via email.

Credits

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Credits

Web builder:     Trina McLellan

A friend of Older People Speak Out (OPSO) since it was formed more than two decades ago, Trina McLellan is a journalist/editor, communicator, researcher and educator who many years earlier had been a university student of OPSO’s founder, Val French OAM. Since OPSO began, Trina has assisted from time to time with the organisation’s media awards and training events and has provided occasional advice to its committees. OPSO has contracted Trina for the build, maintenance and promotion of this website.

Photography:    Richard (Tommy) Campion

copyright-RTC-in-the-shallowsOlder People Speak Out would particularly like to acknowledge the generous permission granted by retired Gold Coast news photographer, Richard (Tommy) Campion (pictured) for the use of his stunning photographs that feature throughout this website.

One of many children who were bullied and abused in a church orphanage in his early life, Tommy has more recently been a magnificent champion for others – like himself – who bravely gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse.

Tommy continues to seek justice for himself and for others,, many of whom are now themselves in their advancing years.

Through all that, he continues to take many wonderful photographs each day, regardless of where in the world he might be. When asked whether he could help with this project, his immediate reply was that OPSO were welcome to use his images for this website.

Related publicity

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Residential care

Understaffing/Ratios

Medication management

Communication

Personal care

Falls prevention

Dementia care

Meals

Mobile services

Intrusions/privacy

Abuse (bullying/assault/financial)

Companionship

Respite services

Deaths

Homelessness

In-home services 

Making a complaint

Costs

Policy and services

NDIS

Resources

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Foundation

Have your say on aged care-2

Dementia advice and carer resources

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Dementia advice and information

Caring for someone with dementia can be complicated, uncertain and sometimes lonely, especially in the early days.

Dementia Australia (formerly Alzheimer’s Australia) publishes this helpful online portal for carers of people with dementia.

It features advice, links to support services, education materials, help sheets and other resources as well as a definition of dementia, its symptoms, causes and memory loss.

The organisation also has a National Dementia Helpline (1800 100 500).

It also offers specific, State-based information and services (select your state from the left-hand navigation panel).

Resources for carers

Carers who provide unpaid care and support to family members and friends who have a disability, mental illness, chronic condition, terminal illness, an alcohol or other drug issue or who are frail aged often need information and advice.

Carers Australia is the peak body representing Australia’s carers. It advocates on behalf of carers to influence policies and services at a national level.

It also serves the carers of older and infirm Australians as well as providing support for younger carers and those who care for people from Indigenous as well as culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Working through its state and territory associations, Carers Australia also provides a wide range of counselling, advice, information and registration services. These include:

It also provides helpful assistance with navigating the NDIS.

Carers Australia runs a 24/7 helpline – 1800 242 636 – and works collaboratively with partners and its member organisations, its network of state and territory Carers Associations, to deliver a range of essential national carer services.

Have your say on aged care-2

Resources

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Whether you are seeking further information for yourself, a family member or someone for whom you are caring, this section provides links to:

If you know of other useful resources, please let us know at secretary@opso.com.au so we can share them on these web pages.

Have your say on aged care-2

State and territory government policies and services

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Each of Australia’s states and territories has a number of policies and services for older and infirm citizens. Below are the links to a selection of official policies and services in each jurisdiction.

Queensland

New South Wales

Australian Capital Territory

Victoria

Tasmania

South Australia

Northern Territory

Western Australia

Conversation starter

Have you – or anyone you have cared for – experienced issues with State or Territory governments, either in relation to policies or services? What were the consequences of those policy or service issues? Were you able to resolve those issues? How were you supported through this process?

Have your say on aged care-2

Federal Government policies

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The Federal Government publishes a number of resources online that explain how aged care options, regulations and reforms are working.

These include:

Aged Care: A quick guide

‘Caring for the elderly’ – an overview of aged care support and services in Australia

Guides and policies

Aged care reform

Legislation

Conversation starter

How easy have you or someone for whom you care found navigating your way through aged care options? Did you have good access to sources of timely information and advice? Have you or someone for whom you care advocated for change as part of the Federal Government’s aged care reform process? What were your experiences?

Have your say on aged care-2

Aged care quality indicators

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The Federal Government Department of Health, through its Ageing and Aged Care unit, has established the National Aged Care Quality Indicator Program with three initial quality indicators for residential aged care. These look at performance around:

  • pressure injuries
  • use of physical restraint
  • unplanned weight loss.

To be – and remain – an accredited provider, aged care facilities must meet benchmarks across four standards:

  • Management systems, staffing and organisational development
  • Health and personal care
  • Care recipient lifestyle
  • Physical environment and safe systems.

On the other hand, care provided in a person’s home or in the community is measured against three standards:

  • Effective management
  • Appropriate access and service delivery
  • Service user rights and responsibilities.

In addition, there are two flexible aged care program standards for Indigenous elders:

  • Care delivery and information
  • Management and accountability.

However, after reviewing the sector’s quality indicators, The University of Sydney and UNSW researchers have called for a review of aged care policy and the establishment of a “robust and comprehensive” aged care quality data system.

Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, they cautioned that understanding the connections between clinical indicators, the care needs of a facility’s residents, and the perceptions of clients and staff were “crucial”, having demonstrated a complex relationship among these factors in their analysis.

They reviewed data collected from 426 facilities between 2015 and 2016 covering five commonly gathered clinical indicators of care quality: falls, pressure injury, physical restraint, unplanned weight loss and polypharmacy. Only the last factor was regularly reported.

Conversation starter

Do you – or someone for whom you care – feel that the Federal Government’s aged care quality indicators already in place are sufficient to achieve a “robust and comprehensive” assessment of residential, in-home or community care? 

Have your say on aged care-2

NDIS for younger people in aged care

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Governments have said they will spend an extra $11 billion a year on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

But many people under the age of 65 years residing in aged care facilities may miss out on receiving support due to communication barriers, a lack of access to information, little or no assistance to navigate the process plus a diminished understanding of their own functional and health needs.

In this Australian Ageing Agenda web article, an NDIS expert with inside knowledge – who now works away from the agency – is calling on aged care providers to ensure younger residents are connected to the NDIS and receive the financial and personal support they require.

Conversation starter

Have you – or someone for whom you care – had difficulty navigating the requirements of the NDIS? Were you able to receive advice and assistance that progressed the application being made? What was the outcome? Were there any delays? 

Have your say on aged care-2

Policy areas

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There is a wide range of policies relating to the care of older and infirm Australians receiving services in aged care facilities and in their own homes.

Additionally, older and infirm Australians who are under the age of 65 years may be eligible, following assessment, for support via the National Disability Insurance Scheme .

Public, private and not-for-profit residential aged care facilities must meet a standard set of quality indicators for the services they provide.

While the Federal Government is centrally responsible for setting national aged care policy and procedures, all states and territories assist older and infirm citizens and their families and carers to identify their care options.

Conversation starter

Have you – or someone you have cared for – found change is needed in policy relating to either residential or in-home care? Is that change critical at the national, state or regional level? Or is the change more urgent at truly local level, i.e., in an aged care facility or in your immediate community?

Have your say on aged care-2

Costs relating to in-home care

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The Australian Government subsidises both Commonwealth Home Support Packages and Home Care Packages and publishes information about those costs.

However, if you can afford to, you are expected to contribute to the cost of your care.

This web page notes that there is a fee for each service delivered under the CHSP and the amount you contribute depends on your income and the type and number of services you require.

You and your service provider will discuss and agree on the rate before you receive any services. Contact your service provider to find out specific costs.

Conversation starter

Have you or someone for whom you care applied for either – or both – a Commonwealth Home Support Package or a Home Care Package? What were your experiences with this process? How long was the wait for the package to begin? What support was the person needing care while they waited for their package? Was the support given sufficient to sustain the person in their home? Did family, friends or neighbours play a role in this person’s care at any point? Did the person remain at home?

Have your say on aged care-2

Extra services

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Extra services in residential aged care refers to the provision of additional, hotel-type services that include a significantly higher than average standard of accommodation, range and quality of food, as well as non-care services such as recreational, entertainment and personal interest activities.

These are separately charged as an additional daily fee.

Conversation starter

Have you or someone for whom you care ordered Extra Services for someone in residential aged care? What services were expected and were these services delivered? Did you feel the price paid for Extra Services was worth it?

Have your say on aged care-2

Residential aged care costs

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Navigating the costs associated with residential aged care is complex and can be confusing, even in the most straightforward cases.

And it is often difficult to compare potential outgoings between providers because services and fee structures usually vary.

As this Startsat60 article points out, while the Federal Government subsidises some aged care services, there is an expectation that the person going into a care facility will contribute to care costs wherever they can afford to do so.

It explains that the cost of aged care typically consists of a basic daily fee, a means-tested care fee, an accommodation payment plus (usually optional) extra services fees.

Conversation starter

Have you or someone for whom you care found it difficult to weigh up the outgoings between residential aged care providers? Who was able to give you advice? In the end, what did the decision come down to? Have you been satisfied that value for money has been delivered?

Have your say on aged care-2

Care costs

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The Australian Financial Review recently reported on a survey by National Seniors Australia and a commercial annuity provider.

This survey found that – despite a widespread belief that the need for money decreases as one ages – a majority of those aged older than 75 years found their cash flow needs went up not down.

This was because health costs and family support needs typically replaced and exceeded earlier financial commitments.

With life expectancy for both Australian men and women rising, provision also needs to be made for a longer retirement period.

Conversation starter

Have you or someone for whom you care found costs for aged care reasonable or too high? What aspect is of the most concern? What issues have you encountered around the costs associated with aged care?

Have your say on aged care-2

Off-loading to hospitals

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One of Brisbane’s major hospitals has drawn attention to the “extraordinary” rate of aged care patients from one northside healthcare facility being ‘dumped’ in the hospital’s emergency department for basic care.

In a recent report in The Australian, three senior medical sources at the hospital note that the admissions were typically for minor catheter and wound management, services for which aged care providers receive federal government funds.

Hospitals have been critical of the growing frequency in the use of the money-saving move that is allegedly becoming part of care homes’ “business model”.

Another report by SBS News Online sees the spotlight shone on private aged care facilities being unwilling to hire more nursing and care staff.

Conversation starter

Have you or your family witnessed such transfers? Did you believe they were necessary? Were you of the understanding that the aged care facility concerned would provide such nursing care on-site? Did you have the reverse experience, i.e., would you have preferred that a transfer to a hospital took place?

Have your say on aged care-2

Training

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Aged care workers are the backbone of the sector. Without nurses, personal care workers and other aged care staff, this article notes, Australia’s vulnerable elderly and infirm could flounder.

But ensuring all personnel received sufficient training remains an ideal yet to be reached. Stemming the tide of under-prepared personnel is one aspect being looked at by the sector’s experts.

Recently Professor John Pollaers – who is head of the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce – spoke at the Quality in Aged Care Conference in Sydney.

Reporting his speech, aged care review website HelloCare said Professor Pollaers told conference attendees that, while people were in this industry “because they care”, the Taskforce would be looking at, among other things, current and future education and training provided to all staff.

Conversation starter

Have you – or someone you care about – seen evidence of the level of training in a residential aged care facility? What was the issue that drew your attention? Was any shortfall raised with the facility’s management? What was the response?

Have your say on aged care-2

 

Staff:resident ratios

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Fewer staff, bigger workloads, time for caring wiped out, sometimes with serious consequences.

There are claims that cuts to qualified staff led to the death of a Queensland woman from septicaemia just two months after her aged care facility failed 15 of 44 industry standards.

As an ABC Online report notes, the centre was found to be lacking in the level of food, fluids and personal care, with not enough “appropriately skilled and qualified staff” and insufficient monitoring and reporting of “clinical incidents”.

It two other reports in the Sunshine Coast Daily another Queensland aged care facility – with a previously unblemished record – that had cut 722 hours from its fortnightly staff roster last year subsequently failed eight of 44 industry standards.

The reported shortfalls, worryingly, were in medication management, clinical care and specialised nursing care needs.

Staff-to-resident ratios in both cases drew the wrath of residents, families and, in the latter case, the district’s federal member.

Conversation starter

Are you satisfied with level and quality of clinical or nursing care provided in your – or your loved one’s – aged care facility? Are there sufficient staff to provide a decent service? What needs to change? Have you been able to raise your concerns with anyone and, if so, what was the response? Did care improve afterwards?

Have your say on aged care-2

Staffing in residential aged care

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Stories abound of shrinking staff numbers in Australian residential aged care facilities. Fewer people to take on larger workloads and fewer shifts to go around. It is one of the most contentious aspects evident, right across the residential aged care system.

Sadly, evidently with the blessing of authorities, some providers have opted to reassign certain duties – that previously only a registered nurse could do – to the sector’s newest position, “personal care workers”.

Alarm bells are ringing because these less expensive workers, it is claimed, are being tasked with administering medicines “without proper training”.

Just what it was like working in that environment was explained at a recent aged care forum by a qualified nurse.

In this long read from the Bundaberg NewsMail, which describes her typical work day, this nurse outlines the shortcuts needed to meet productivity expectations as well as the reasons she no longer works in the sector.

Conversation starter

Are you a current or former aged care facility worker? What changes have you seen over the recent past in staffing levels and what has that meant for residents and staff? Did you leave the sector because of staffing level issues or are you considering doing so? Or have you or a loved one seen staffing level changes in your aged care facility?

Have your say on aged care-2

Deaths in residential care

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Australia’s aged care facilities are increasingly deadly places for their residents, with falls, choking and suicide the main causes of preventable deaths, according to a recent Monash University study that calls for more effort to be made to reduce risks for elderly Australians.

The researchers last year found up to 3,000 residential aged care home deaths were “premature and preventable”, with falls accounting for the vast majority (82 per cent) of these deaths and medication errors also among the reasons for the loss of life.

The result represented a 400 per cent increase in preventable deaths over the past decade.

This Sydney Morning Herald report looks at the experience of one public health researcher whose mother’s death while an aged care resident highlighted some of the key pitfalls in overstretched nursing homes.

Conversation starter

What experience have you had with someone passing away either in or from an aged care facility? If the death was not from natural causes, what was the reason? Did the person receive appropriate palliative care and medical attention? Were that person’s loved ones cared for appropriately?

Have your say on aged care-2

End-of-life and palliative care in residential care

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A blistering Productivity Commission report released in March has found the country’s palliative care services are failing older Australians.

The report noted that tens of thousands of Australians are dying in places that do not reflect their choices or meet their needs.

According to this SBS coverage of the report, the commission has recommended a raft of changes to significantly expand community based palliative care and to improve end-of-life services in residential aged care. It noted that the latter “should be core business for aged care facilities” and that the quality of that care “should align with the quality that available to other Australians”.

In residential aged care facilities, the commission has urged the removal of current restrictions on the duration and availability of palliative care funding.

Conversation starter

What have your experiences been with the provision of end-of-life care or palliative care in an aged care setting? Were you and your family satisfied that all was done to keep your loved one comfortable? Could things have been done differently?

Have your say on aged care-2

Falls, physical harm, abuse in residential care

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A National Ageing Research Institute senior researcher says there is not enough research done in residential aged care to truly understand falls, their causes and to evaluate a range of interventions.

While work progresses on reducing the rate of falls in older people living in the community – from one in three people aged 65 years and over – up to three times as many residents, about half of all in aged care settings, experience falls every year.

Given aged care residents are older, more likely to have cognitive impairment and are frailer than those living in the community, a higher number of falls might be expected.

The extent of injury with falls in aged care is higher and the greatest concern is for those who fall frequently.

With consequences of falls including increased anxiety and fear of falling again, increased functional decline, decreased independence, fractures and death, well-funded, targeted research is needed to develop education programs for staff and residents.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one experienced – or have you witnessed – a fall or other harm or abuse in an aged care facility? What was the consequence of this? What had been done to prevent that happening beforehand? What was done afterward to prevent it happening again?

Have your say on aged care-2

Financial abuse in residential care

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Last year, in a joint ABC-Fairfax investigation, residents of the multi-billion-dollar retirement village industry described buying into a retirement village – even ones that were linked to aged care facilities – had been an unwanted “financial sinkhole”.

This report looks specifically how one of the nation’s largest aged care providers, Aveo, had been exploiting elderly residents of its villages.

The company’s alarming business practices included safety issues, misleading during its marketing, advertising and property sale and lease processes. The company’s legalistic sales contracts were described by some lawyers as “complex” and “draconian”.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one experienced financial abuse by an aged care provider? What happened in this instance? Were you or your family able to negotiate a fairer outcome with the provider? Had any contracts been viewed by an independent lawyer prior to signing? Was the matter reported to any authority? What was the eventual outcome?

Have your say on aged care-2

Property loss or damage

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Theft and property loss can be distressing and even cause financial difficulties for those in residential aged care, yet missing or misplaced clothing, broken treasures, stolen jewellery, broken medical aids that are depended on, money taken – or used inappropriately – are frequently spoken of by residents, families and carers.

Sometimes an external player is responsible, as in this Melbourne story from The Age, but more often the perpetrator works in, resides in or visits the facility where the damage or loss took place.

Conversation starter

Tell us about any experience you, a loved one or someone you have cared for has had with property loss or damage while they were a resident in an aged care facility. Was the item repaired, replaced or found intact? If not, were you or your loved one compensated for the loss or damage? Did the loss or damage happen more than once? What was the resident’s reaction? What steps did the aged care facility take to prevent this happening in future?

Have your say on aged care-2

Personal safety and security

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Families, carers and residents often chose a particular aged care facility because they were assured of the steps it takes to ensure personal safety and security.

Increasingly, though, reports have emerged of insecure facilities, poor background checks and other residents with problematic behaviours.

One NSW centre last year failed a number of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency’s key benchmarks, including staff working without criminal history checks, residents right to privacy not being respected, under-resourced cleaning and catering teams and repairs not being promptly addressed.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one felt that personal safety or security was less than anticipated in an aged care facility? What were your experiences? Was the matter raised with the facility’s management or an external body? If it was a serious incident, were police notified? Was a formal complaint lodged? What was the outcome or consequences?

Have your say on aged care-2

Hygiene, sanitation

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Whether the issue be about showering, toileting, dental care, nail length and cleanliness, management of medical devices such as hearing aids, daily wound care or adequate movement to prevent pressure sores that can eventually be deadly, many families and residents have concerns about how hygiene and sanitation are managed in aged care facilities.

One NSW Central Coast family’s tragic story underscores the consequences of inattention to basic hygiene standards. [Warning: graphic image in this story.]

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one witnessed hygiene or sanitation issues in an aged care facility? How long was it before a family member of the resident concerned was made aware of the issue? How was the issue brought to the attention of the facility’s staff? What was the response? Did the matter have to be raised on more than one occasion? What were the consequences for the person receiving care? What other impacts were there? Was the situation so severe that the resident was moved to another facility?

Have your say on aged care-2

Personal care

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Staff at a Queensland aged care facility that failed 15 of 44 key quality measures during an unannounced visit by auditors have subsequently admitted that residents were left underfed, unfed, and were sponged instead of being showered because of time constraints.

In a written memo to staff after the audit, the facility’s management instructed staff to attempt to feed residents on three occasions and if those attempts failed, they were to discard the food.

Residents at the facility had also told auditors they were being left on toilets for prolonged periods.

Conversation starter

Do you work in an aged care facility where things are not what they should be? Or are you or a loved one involved with a facility where this is evident? What things could be done differently or better? What do you believe are the factors behind this shortfall? Have those concerns been raised with the facility’s management or an external authority? What was the response?

Have your say on aged care-2

Companionship

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You would think that aged care facilities should be well-placed to tackle social isolation. But three Victorian experts say research has shown seniors living in residential care report feeling lonelier than those who remain in the community.

With social connectedness a key determinant of health, it was alarming to hear the Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announce last year that up to 40 per cent of people living in residential aged care were not receiving any visitors at all.

This Australian Ageing Agenda article looks at ways to break the cycle of loneliness and isolation.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one had concerns about isolation, loneliness or neglect issues in aged care residents? What actions would you like to see taken?

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Communication

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Lack of communication between staff and with residents and their families and carers is a growing concern. But when communication breaks down to such an extent a resident’s life is put in danger, families and carers find their loved ones can be put in life-threatening situations.

That, sadly, was the case just over a year ago for one Queensland family, who has since spoken publicly about the care shortfalls and communication barriers their mother faced before she died of a preventable infection.

Conversation starter

Have you or your loved one found communication issues have impacted the care received in an aged care facility? What was your experience? Was the aged care facility responsive to your concerns? Was this situation addressed or did it lead to further issues? Did you end up lodging a formal complaint?

Have your say on aged care-2

Resident meals (including fluids)

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The headline said it all: Prisoners fed better than Aussies in aged care homes.

Shocking new data unveiled earlier this year showed Australian aged care facilities spent an average of just $6.08 per resident to provide three meals a day, down by 30 cents per resident per day over the previous year.

By comparison, prisons spent an average of $8.25 per prisoner per day on food and aged care facilities overseas were increasing their spending on food for residents.

Other Australians spend $17.25-$23.60 per person each day on food. It’s no wonder half of our nation’s 64,256 residents in aged care facilities suffer from malnutrition.

Malnutrition is associated with a cascade of adverse outcomes, including increased risk of falls, pressure injuries and hospital admissions. Inevitably, malnutrition leads to poorer resident quality of life and increased healthcare costs.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one noticed the decline in the amount and/or quality of food or fluids being served in your aged care facility? How long has any decline been evident? Are supplements and/or food replacements being used instead of real food? Are you – or a family member or friend – routinely bringing food to someone in an aged care facility?

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Clinical care

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Even aged care facilities that meet every accreditation standard can be deficient in providing consistent and timely clinical care.

The experience of one Melbourne woman who spoke to Fairfax Media – whose husband endured two years of questionable care, including being placed in restraints up to 12 hours at a time for months at a stretch for spurious reasons and rarely sleeping in a bed, exacerbating his back pain – underscored how subjective standards often are not enough.

Conversation starter

Have you or your loved one experienced an issue with clinical care in a residential aged care facility? What was the issue and what were its consequences? Who was approached to address this issue? Were you satisfied with the response? What was the eventual outcome?

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Medication management

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Monash University research has found medication errors in aged care facilities are common and their potential to cause harm is high, but that reporting of the serious effects of such errors on residents – such as permanent disability or death – is rare.

The researchers looked at a number of studies from 2000 to 2015 that showed between 16 and 27 per cent of residents had been exposed to one or more medication errors. They also found that errors resulting in serious outcomes were “probably underreported or undetected”.

Conversation starter

Have you or a loved one experienced an issue with how medications were being managed in a residential aged care facility? Did any error occur at the home or at the time of transfer to/from another health facility? Were aged care facility staff made aware of any medication issue? Was a medical practitioner made aware of the issue? Were you satisfied by the response from either by staff or medical professionals? Were there any serious consequences? Was the matter ultimately resolved?

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Aged care residents’ rights and responsibilities

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Just in case you haven’t seen them before, there is a suite of rights and responsibilities for those receiving residential care in an aged care facility that is set out under the federal Aged Care Act 1997 Schedule 1 User Rights Principles 2014.

If you have a concern about these rights or responsibilities, the best agency to address those to is the federal Department of Health’s Ageing and Aged Care. However, if your queries are more about accessing aged care services for older or infirm people, you should visit the My Aged Care website or call 1800 200 422.

If you have experiences that do not meet these rights or responsibilities, please go to the appropriate section of this site to let us know what your experience has been. The site’s sections are listed on the left-hand side of each web page.

Conversation starter

Have these residential aged care rights and responsibilities been spelled out to you or your loved one? Have you ever been witness to one or more breaches of these rights? What additional things could be added to these lists of rights and responsibilities?

Have your say on aged care-2

About this site

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This website, Your Say on Aged Care, is your chance to share what you have seen or experienced – good or bad. It is also a chance for those who ultimately will craft and make decisions about where to from here to:

  • understand your concerns via concrete examples
  • value those things that are working
  • implement constructive change.

While we have begun with five key sections and many more sub-sections, these may grow over the duration of this project, so if you cannot find a space for your contribution, send one anyway and we will ensure it finds the right home.

We invite you to explore the various sections and to check out the Resources section which has additional links to relevant media coverage around aged care issues.

It is planned that the Your Say On Aged Care website will have a limited life. We plan for it to be active until at least year’s end, but we have been informed that legislation is being formulated throughout 2018 with a report due to be compiled by the end of June and draft legislation due to be presented to Parliament in September. So, the earlier you submit, the greater the chance your voice will be heard.

Please read the Submission instructions prior to telling us about your experiences.

Welcome

 

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This site has been set up for older and infirm Australians, their families, carers and friends – as well as those working in this sector – to share their experiences ahead of the Federal Government’s next moves on aged care regulation.

Your input will be invaluable as a way to let Canberra publicly know what the issues are at the coalface. You will be helping us show policymakers and politicians what really needs to be addressed.

If you browse through each of the site’s sections, you will get a feel for some of the issues raised by others. Each page has a conversation-starter and usually at least one link to a news story, report or other relevant information. Just click on the link above to have Your Say on Aged Care in Australia.

We invite negative and positive insights about residential, in-home or community aged care that you or a loved one has experienced. We also welcome input from those tasked with providing that care.

NOTE: Please read the Submission instructions before contributing.

This website is an initiative of Older People Speak Out, an all-volunteer group of retired and semi-retired professionals who advocate on behalf of Australians aged over 50 years. We are an independent, free-spirited group with the experience, knowledge and qualifications to speak out on older people’s issues without fear or favour. OPSO has been going strong for 25+ years and you can find out more about us at opso.com.au, where you can become a member for just $10 a year.

UPDATE: Now that a Royal Commission has been called into Aged Care, Older People Speak Out will be making a submission that includes the posts on this site.

Start here

This website is an initiative of Older People Speak Out, an all-volunteer group of retired and semi-retired professionals who advocate on behalf of Australians aged over 50 years.

We are an independent, free-spirited group with the experience, knowledge and qualifications to speak out on older people’s issues without fear or favour.

OPSO has been going strong for 25+ years and you can find out more about us at opso.com.au, where you can become a member for just $10 a year.

Background

About this site

Submission instructions