With the Royal Commission’s public hearings and consultations currently on the backburner, you could be forgiven for wondering how the Commissioners had just six months ago even found that Australia’s aged care system amounted to “a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation”.
Despite a few negative stories on visitor restrictions to aged care homes – including by the ABC which initiated the Royal Commission with its ‘Who Cares?’ report in 2018 – the mainstream media appears to be shying away from the ‘bad news’ that has been the mainstay in recent years.
They have good reason to.
The COVID-19 situation has forced the Government – and to an extent, the community – to recognise the sector for what it is: an “essential” service” to the Australian economy.
Those individuals who appeared in the ABC investigation now seem to be just that: individuals who experienced poor care in a system that, on the numbers, provides quality care to hundreds of thousands of older Australians.
So, will the Government still be concerned with the recommendations in the Royal Commission’s Final Report?
It will have a financial challenge. Despite the International Monetary Fund’s predictions of a V-shaped recession for Australia, the country will still experience its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
Is aged care really such a problem for the Government when there is 10% unemployment?
On the surface, the likely outcome now seems to be that the sector will be allowed to keep on with what it needs to do: supporting Australia’s most frail and vulnerable.
But that doesn’t work. Through the Royal Commission, the sector explained it has been doing the best it can under the Government rules/funding, but it could do so much more if it was allowed to.
We suspect that the Government on receiving the Report will be asking itself: is aged care a priority if it is not broken?
The sector needs to be restructured so that it is financially sustainable – and free to innovate its services.