Commissioner Briggs – “Why is this cruel system so unkind?”

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During last week’s forum in Launceston TAS, Commissioner Lynelle Briggs noted that time and time again the Commissioners found the aged care system had been “commodified” with the focus on box-ticking and meeting standards.

“Why is this cruel system so unkind?” she asked rhetorically. “When we ask the question: who is responsible? The answer is we all are. We have let the system go too long and it’s time to address that.”

Commissioner Briggs emphasised the need to take a community approach to addressing the issues in aged care.

“We need to get our collective act together,” she stated, “We need to reimagine the industry.”

Quoting one speaker who labelled the system an abominable failure, Commissioner Briggs said it is because of these failings that she and Commissioner Tracey will not be including any recommendations in the interim report.

“We don’t want a bitsy response – we want a comprehensive response,” 

The Commissioner also pointed to the issues of staffing, noting that there are some very good people working in the system, but:

  • there aren’t enough of them because they are underpaid. 
  • employed casually
  • offered no career paths or development
  • not included in care teams
  • given no training in dementia

“This system needs a lot of change,” she said. “I think relationships with people, in particular relationships with families, need to be a focus.”

Commissioner Briggs said more respite care and Home Care Packages were needed, especially considering that 16,000 people a year die waiting for a home care package at their assessed level.

She commented on how it was éxtraordinary’ that  Australia is not doing more to keep people healthy and provide support to allow people to live at home.

“We’re slack at it, we’re really slack at this. We’re going to have to get off our bums and do something about that,” she said.

Commissioner Briggs closed the Launceston forum by urging attendees to read the interim report when it is released at the end of the month.

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