The final hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was held on Thursday and Friday last week. More than 10,000 submissions have been received from the public and multiple hearings, workshops, community forums, meetings and roundtables have been held across the country.
The Royal Commission has published eight background papers, fourteen research papers and two consultation papers. The official website holds a wealth of information on the workings of the aged care sector. It will be a valuable source of reference for many years to come.
This treasure trove of analysis into the aged care sector comes at a premium cost. It is critical that we see some return from this significant investment. Although most people would only have a passing interest in the progress of the Royal Commission, for those of us within the sector, it has been compelling viewing.
With the government holding off any significant decisions until the final report is delivered in February 2021, we have a while to wait. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 older people are still waiting to receive a Home Care Package. Some receive support through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, but many are having to struggle through on their own or with family support. The government’s My Aged Care website (myagedcare.gov.au) has been improved after criticism in the interim report, but it is still confusing to people who don’t know where to start.
Losing function and capability as we age can be extremely distressing. Ill health or the loss of a partner changes our lives irreversibly.
The aged care system is complicated and confusing for anyone who hasn’t had any exposure to it. Our loved ones deserve the right to age with dignity and in comfort, whether that be in their own home with support or in residential aged care.
In the end, we all want to see a high quality aged care system. By February next year, when the final report is released, the Royal Commission will have spent more than two years investigating aged care quality and safety in Australia. It is paramount that the recommendations of the Royal Commission are actioned by the government and the necessary sector reform is undertaken. For now, we wait.