Those in aged care have been some of the hardest hit by the coronavirus second wave in Victoria. Even before the crisis, there were calls for reform of the sector, which is currently being examined by a royal commission.
Issues with staffing and delivery of care have only become worse as many workers are required to isolate, with mass transmission occurring in the homes.
Patricia Sparrow is CEO of Aged & Community Services Australia, a peak body which represents not-for-profit members providing residential care for some 450,000 people throughout the country.
One of the many issues with the aged care sector, Sparrow says, is a failure to define the role and purpose of aged care.
“They used to be called nursing homes and that’s what people thought they were. But in recent times … there’s been a move to them being more home-like and less emphasis on [the] clinical. So I think one of the critical things we need to do is actually to determine what is it that aged care is providing.”
“We need to decide then as a community how we fund it so that it can deliver the quality of care that the community expects and that we as providers want to provide.”
The royal commission produced a scathing interim report, and Sparrow is hopeful its final findings will bring about the real reform the industry needs.
“We do need a system that’s wellness-based. We need a system that supports people at home, that provides the very best in terms of health-care needs. And that does require us to look at the interface with the health system.
"There’s no doubt that we need a fundamental reform and there’s no doubt that providers are doing the very best they can now, with the resourcing and the restraints around what it is that we can do.”
A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra