‘Aged care’ gets off lightly on ABC’s Q&A, plus Minister states 30 – 60 days wait max. for home care package

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While it was promoted by the ABC as being a hot issue debate, last night’s Q&A turned out to be more a discussion than a debate.

The five panellists each worked hard to be responsible and non-inflammatory, with the result that it was not great television but it did give dimension to the challenges of the sector.

The five panellists were:

  • Richard Colbeck, Minister for Ageing
  • Julie Collins, Shadow Minister for Ageing & Seniors
  • Sean Rooney, CEO, LASA
  • Maggie Beer, ‘food icon’ and founder of the Maggie Beer Foundation
  • Sarah Holland-Batt, whose father had been abused and neglected in aged care

Sean Rooney receives the greatest support in the room with the following interaction:

“If we want a world-class aged-care system it’s going to require world-class funding.”

“We spend 1% of gross domestic product on aged care compared to around 1.5% for most Western countries. This is not a sustainable, viable system as it currently stands and we need to come up with a solution, right now.”

The minister responded:

“It’s not something that we’re not considering.”

“We are looking at all of the reports and numbers right now. I’m very cognisant of the needs of the industry right now.”

Rooney also brought up waiting lists for home care, now standing at 12 to 18 months. He propositions that three months should be the maximum.

The Minister responded that to his mind 30 to 60 days should be the maximum period of waiting, and referred to the NDIS model as his preference.

Rooney then slipped in the fact that medical restraints are not prescribed by the aged care staff but by the resident’s GP. Unfortunately, that was not picked up by the others for discussion.

The biggest applause in the room came from a question by Gabi Pearson of the NSW Nurses & Midwives’ Association, who asked: “When will the government stop pandering to the profiteering aged care companies and introduce mandated staff to resident ratios”?

Food received a lot of discussion, led by Maggie Beer. The important message was ‘beautiful’ food ‘and joy’ can be delivered at $10.50 per day. Some aged care homes have had to work to budgets of $4.50 per day per resident.

She has had 200 aged care chefs train through her foundation; however the chefs will not be able to achieve this beautiful food and joy without leadership from the CEO, said Beer.

Minister Colbeck finished the show on a similar message. “Attitudinal change is required” in aged care.