Eight aged care inquiries and counting – will home care be the next target?

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The Federal Government has now announced the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport Inquiry to investigate the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia.

Chaired by Trent Zimmerman MP, the Inquiry will look at the quality of care and services plus consumer protections available to aged care residents. Submissions are open until 8 February, 2018.

It joins the other seven current or recent aged care inquiries:

  • The Tune Report on the Aged Care Legislated Review;
  • The Carnell Paterson Report into the government’s quality accreditation systems and processes;
  • The Senate inquiry into aged care quality assessment and accreditation;
  • An Aged Care Single Quality Framework;
  • A Resource Utilisation and Classification Study;
  • Increasing Choice in Home Care changes, and;
  • The new Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce.

In short, it’s the most intense scrutiny that the sector has been under, driven by media coverage that has included the Oakden closure in SA and Cooinda House shutdown in QLD.

But this level of scrutiny seems set to become the ‘new norm’. Just last week, the ABC ran an aged care abuse story sourced using Freedom of Information (FOI) laws – showing that media outlets are actively pursuing information about the sector.

How long it will be before the Federal Government turns its attention to home care packages and the 41,000 people who are currently receiving services below their level of need? Imagine the images of clients in rapidly declining health isolated in their homes.

Providers should also consider the expectations of the community that any inquiry will result in a list of recommendations – which will need to be implemented or rejected.

Either way, it signals more change on the way for the sector.

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