Rick Morton makes sense – essential reading

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Put aside all the editorials on the Royal Commission into aged care just read one: the social affairs writer for The Australian and his article on Saturday titled “Cruel reality hits home”.  Read it here.

Morton has invested deeply in understanding and reporting on the aged care sector, particularly over the past 18 months.

He starts:

“There is a reckoning due in this nation. Our aged-care system is broken. It has been eroded by moral and political failures, aided by a collective delusion that the network of care could withstand the forces of demographic change without substantial intervention.”

Morton succinctly then analyses why we are at this point. The care system we have in place and the society we are that has outsourced family care to strangers.

If you are seeking to cut through all the talk about aged care read this article in full.

Some points:

Why the royal commission?

“Morrison had been reminded at length by his own MPs that they were being swamped by constituents who have tried to navigate the Byzantine aged-care system. They feel betrayed because the support is stretched. Loved ones are suffering. Not just with the headline-grabbing horror stories (remember kerosene baths?) but by the baseline neglect and indignity of a system manifestly incapable of truly, really caring for its charges”.

What will be the outcome?

“Despite a near-universal need to trust that an aged-care system will provide support and protection in old age, a Royal Commission into the sector will find that no such system exists and certainly won’t in the future — not without total and sweeping action. Deep down, Australians know this. Anyone who has been in or placed a loved one into a home knows this. It is an uneasy knowledge”.

Background to the crisis:

“the funding tap from government has slowed to a drip. Subsidies through the Aged Care Funding Instrument have been frozen since 2016”.

“The growth of funding in care costs and money provided through the ACFI have kept track since 2007 but, for the first time last year, the cumulative increase in costs worn by providers was 10 percentage points higher than the subsidy. Simply put, that means providers found the money elsewhere or they cut staff”.

“They cut staff”.

“Those nurses and personal care workers who were not jettisoned are hard to keep, anyhow. A workforce strategy review commissioned by Wyatt and released earlier this month reported that 15 per cent to 25 per cent of staff vacancies are because of absenteeism or workforce turnover”.

What needs to be done:

“The warnings are now so old they could legally drink. The Royal Commission will elevate those stories to the national stage”.

“As one shrewd industry observer says: “It would be a brave government that ignores its recommendations.”