WHILE the aged care sector waits to see if the May 11 Federal Budget will help fund recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care, local provider, Edgarley, has committed to a proactive approach to the review.
Edgarley chief executive, Susan Wray said staff skill mix and staffing levels required to maintain quality care was one of the first priorities of the organisation, with a roster restructure – supported by the nurses’ union – already in place.
“This resulted recently in the recruitment of several registered nurses to enhance our clinical staff and ensure we meet the recommendations on staffing that have come from the Royal Commission,” Mrs Wray said.
“Edgarley have also completed a comprehensive review of our catering services, employed a new chef and implemented a new menu.”
The organisation has also undertaken a review of its governance, engaging Leading Age Services Australia to ensure it governance framework is built on accountability, transparency, openness, integrity, stewardship and leadership.
Mrs Wray said the group’s finances underwent annual, external auditing and had approached aged care legal experts, Russell Kennedy, to review and rewrite its constitution.
“The aged care industry has undergone many challenges in the last 18 months, with the implementation of the new Serious Accident Response Scheme for the reporting of incidents, which commenced as of 1 April and the requirements to have specialised infection control-trained staff in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, which Edgarley has complied with,” Mrs Wray said.
“Edgarley staff have and continue to work hard to give the community a home where residents can be looked after with care and respect.
“Working in collaboration with the board, the staff and I will continue to strive for excellence in providing the community of Casterton a home it can be proud of.”
In its report, handed down in March, the Royal Commission into Aged Care cited massive gaps in the provision of aged care in Australia, from the ability to access services, through to governance of provider organisations.
The commission acknowledged the constant evolution of aged care services – some of which occurred during the inquiry – noting that was some changes to the sector had been far-reaching, others were incremental, resulting in the “piecemeal development of the aged care system”.
At the extreme end of the system, the commission’s final report cited substandard care in both routine areas of care including nutrition and medication management,t as well as in deliberate acts of harm and forms of abuse.
“The abuse of older people in residential care is far from uncommon,” the report stated.
“In 2019–20, residential aged care services reported 5718 allegations of assault under the mandatory reporting requirements of the Aged Care Act.
“A study conducted by consultancy firm KPMG for the Australian Department of Health estimated that, in the same year, a further 27,000 to 39,000 alleged assaults occurred that were exempt from mandatory reporting because they were resident-on-resident incidents.
“In our inquiry, we heard of physical and sexual abuse that occurred at the hands of staff members, and of situations in which residential aged care providers did not protect residents from abuse by other residents.
“This is a disgrace and should be a source of national shame.”
With the pending Federal Budget, the Australian Aged Care Collaboration, representing more than 1000 service providers, released its formal response to the Royal Commission, outlining 15 priority areas for the industry and urging the Federal Government to adopt and fund its plan of address.
“If we are to set up our aged care system to guarantee all older Australians the respect and dignity they deserve we need a total overhaul of the funding model and workforce strategy, not more fiddling at the edges,” the collaboration’s Patricia Sparrow said.
“The Royal Commission made it clear we need to put older people, their needs and a rights-based system first.
“To make that possible, big picture reform of the entire system is necessary.
“As part of this big picture reform we must see the critical aged care workforce grow and be well supported through better pay, conditions and training.”