Statist hair of the dog won’t cure aged care crisis

Having written here previously about the Royal Commission into Aged Care, I was interested to hear what Scott Morrison had to say on Monday when his government began laying out a formal policy response. The headline announcement was an additional $537 million for the sector. That will fund 10,000 new home-care packages and a national overhaul of medication management. The Prime Minister said more changes and money are on the way. Just how much money is needed to adhere to the Commission’s entire wish-list hasn’t filtered through to public understanding. Leaving aside for a moment the elderly themselves, several thousand houses will have to be built to remove all younger people from aged care. For now, the most noticeable improvements for old people in “homes” will come not from boosted funding but from salutary trepidation in the ranks of managers and staff. Most of them are not deserving of obloquy but could profit by a renewed sense of connection, shall we say, to enlivened protocols of accountability. Yes, I do mean they’re now being watched.

Prioritising home-care is an admission of sorts that institutionalising the elderly is the ultimate cause of the “unkind and uncaring” treatment condemned by the Royal Commission. An admission of sorts, however, is not the same thing as facing the truth. As I’ve argued previously, we as a culture are responsible for neglecting the aged. Mr Morrison should have the courage to say the Commission erred in blaming “the system.”

About 120,000 people are waiting for home-care packages. Funding them will cost $2.5 billion. You don’t have to be as brutal as David Leyonhjelm to see that figure as pie in the sky. Labor’s aged care spokeswoman, Julie Collins, is up for it, though. She described the Prime Minister’s program as a “drop in the ocean” and accused him of procrastinating as 300 frail citizens per week die “without their home care package.” It was inevitable politicians would reduce this dolor to dollars and its remedy to recidivism. There is somebody to ‘get’ for this, after all: whoever is spending less than you promise to do. Blame them. How many of those 300 have struggled without their familys’ help? That’s a far more important and confronting question. Even a potentially tectonic one, to use a word beloved of this country’s bunyip Metternichs when they discuss foreign policy. The fundamental crisis in the West is at the heart of the aged care question also. Today, greater love hath no man than this: that he demands the state lay down money for his friends. And his parents.

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22 Responses to Statist hair of the dog won’t cure aged care crisis

  1. stackja

    Families used to care for themselves.
    Then government decided it could do better.

  2. stackja

    How many bureaucrats are ’employed’ in creating and then handling the paper work for the various aged care schemes?

  3. hzhousewife

    How many bureaucrats are ’employed’ in creating and then handling the paper work for the various aged care schemes?

    Way too many.
    Because on the whole, they would rather shuffle paper than wipe drool.

  4. Roger

    I say, this cradle to the grave business is becoming terribly expensive.

    And not all that efficient, either, not to mention caring.

  5. Mique

    Stackja’s got it right. My guess is that at least 60% of any increase in funding will be spent on the administrating bureaucracy.

    Just in, this clownish ACT Government has announced a trial ‘extension’ of the HASS to the tune of $300,000. HASS? Que? Well you may ask. It means Hoarding Advocacy Support Service.

    There is no limit to the chicanery of this unspeakable bureaucracy.

  6. Who are these people that receive home care benefits? My wife looks after her 90 year old mother (who prefers to live in a unit on her own), taking her to all of her appointments, shopping and what have you. This costs us a fair amount in car expenses etc, but we are unable to claim anything. And my mother is a self-funded individual in a nursing home, but she most certainly doesn’t appear to be suffering and ‘unkind and uncaring’ treatment.

    How do 300/week die because they don’t have a care package? And what is this actual care package?

  7. Bruce

    There is a LOT more to this caper.

    The AMA et al need a bit of a rev, as well.

    Parking elderly folks in “God’s waiting room” is not a good thing. “Convenient” and “efficient” perhaps, but not entirely humane.

    I have personally had several elders “go downhill” to the point where they were essentially “empty shells” devoid of their once wonderful selves.

    What became apparent on reflection was that there appears to be a pervasive “pacification” regime in place. Example; my father. He walked, unaided into a hospital for tests and observation for symptoms that resembled Parkinsons. Within a week he was bed-ridden and never walked again, whilst, over the next year or so, physically wasting away to a shadow and incapable of even recognizing his own family. I never did find out what his daily medication regime was, but it certainly kept him quiet.

    It is not entirely surprising that people would lose the will to live when surrounded by such events.

    The doctor who “treated” my mother was struck off the books some time after Mum died. Apparently that occasionally happens.

    Follow the money and the “careers” of those responsible.

    I also note that there is currently a programme of telephone questionnaires from the “Australian Institute of Family Studies.”, https://aifs.gov.au/ apparently an “official” organization. Allegedly about care of the elderly, there were other “check questions and wild-cards” in there. Interestingly, they called me on my “occasional-use” mobile and one of the questions was about the number of mobile phone numbers I used; interesting.

  8. Ellen

    “Leaving aside for a moment the elderly themselves, several thousand houses will have to be built to remove all younger people from aged care.”

    Presumably there are a large number of aged care homes with a mixture of old and younger people. Instead of building new homes/houses, why not just sort them out, and move younger people in together and older people in together? I realise there may be logistic issues, with families needing to be close, and anyway more homes need to be built, but in the meantime this would at least remove some young people from aged care homes.

    On the other hand, there can be positives from mixing age groups, with older people benefiting by having younger people around, and younger people socialising with older one. so why not re-organise existing homes, placing young people’s rooms in a separate wing with dedicated space for computer games and loud music, say, but with common rooms for meals etc. where the generations could intermingle. The thing to avoid is just a lone young person in a home with only very elderly people.

    This should not be beyond the capabilities of government and aged care providers at least while we’re waiting for the thousands of new homes to be built. The name ‘aged care’ should go!

  9. Bela Bartok

    Just as an aside, currencylad, this is quite a lovely turn of phrase:

    politicians would reduce this dolor to dollars

    snaps to you.

  10. Helen

    Mum just got assessed for level 2 package. because of deeming rates her contribution will be about $15.00 per day, the aged care provider charge $56.00 per hour to do things like shopping, take to appointments, cleaning etc. Level 2 is worth $15,250 per year. So ex day rate, 272 hours a year or 5.2 hours per week.

    We, her family have been doing most of this anyhow, but it will be good to have a back up service if we are away. we would want to be there for any appointments to help her as she is quite deaf, and we want oversight on her treatments, so it will probably be used for a bit more cleaning or a bit of shopping.

    Deeming rates are 1% on the first 52,000 or so and 3% after that, even if you actually earn more. Mum is in the bank so she doesn’t. But she has the capital to use.

  11. Snoopy

    300 frail citizens per week die “without their home care package.”

    What does that even mean? Most people obviously at death’s door require 24 hour care.

  12. Snoopy

    the aged care provider charge $56.00 per hour to do things like shopping, take to appointments, cleaning etc.

    Which is about double what the worker receives.

  13. C.L.

    What does that even mean? Most people obviously at death’s door require 24 hour care.

    It means the dears were near death anyway but Labor will speak of them as casualties of Morrison’s cruelty to score political points. Utterly depraved mendacity.

  14. Jock

    I had a go about this before. The RC needs to take aim at families. A few weeks ago a woman described the death of her mother in care and it was from septicemia on the foot. She got all upset at the RC. But she knew about the foot and had not done anything about it. She could have had a home visit and whisked her to see another doctor. She could have raised a stink at the home. I suspect she had not been in for a while and the tears at the RC were mollifying her guilt. The reality is why are we giving up our elderly entirely to homes? Dont we as families care? My mother in law stays with us and she is going no where. Its about time people were told it is not the States place to look after all of the elderly.

    I will also say that the societal expectation that carers really care is fanciful. Its a job. Thats all. Same with NDIS or hospitals. Do people expect that a nurse can feel great and caring for every charge over a 40 year career? In the end it is just a job, to pay for food.

  15. JC

    Why not treble then. Think of it as another fiscal stimulus.

  16. MACK

    Roger 10:13 am “I say, this cradle to the grave business is becoming terribly expensive.”
    Someone should add up the costs of all the idealists’ requests for government money for every aspect of the modern welfare state – include all the available drugs regardless of cost, all the mental health needs, all the dental needs, health care for everyone in remote areas, free taxis to get to hospitals and clinics, etc etc. And when it comes to about 100 times GDP, that should be publicized.

  17. deplorable

    My Aged Care and the NDIS appear to be major scams not unlike the child minding scams. The government and people who think up these outrageous schemes should be horse whipped.

  18. The reality is why are we giving up our elderly entirely to homes? Dont we as families care?

    Families do care, but sometimes it simply isn’t possible for many reasons. I tried to get my mother to move out to where we live, but she refused (she has always refused anything I’ve offered because she always suspects an ulterior motive). Now she lives in an aged care home 200km away from us. Our ability to care for her now would be woefully inadequate even if she lived with us.

    My mother-in-law lives nearby, but she doesn’t want to live with us nor move to a retirement village. Our property isn’t really suited to her mobility anyway, which would limit her movements. It’s her choice and we can’t force her any more than I could force my mother.

    Every family is different and parents from the war era think completely differently to the later generations and they are especially fiercely independent, refusing to admit to their growing frailty. I can see millennials and the like who haven’t yet left home to be of a completely different mindset when it comes their time to be looked after.

  19. Mother Lode

    Families used to care for themselves.
    Then government decided it could do better.

    You find a situation where a minority manages themselves badly.

    You formulate a mass of regulations designed around the delinquent and improvident. You then then pass these as a law that is blanket applied to everybody, including the vast bulk of people who were doing fine.

    You build an enormous bureaucracy demanding all sorts of reporting, licensing and fees.

    When it makes things worse you pass more laws.

    Did you ever see that scene in RoboCop 2 where they stuff his memory with thousands of prescriptive and inconsistent commands? Welcome to Australia.

  20. C.L.

    I tried to get my mother to move out to where we live, but she refused …

    One thing I’ve noticed is that elderly folk rarely know that it’s time to make a big change like that. They want to believe they have another few years in situ. At home, that is – with all their memories, comforting things and familiar feelings. This is entirely understandable. That extra time is often when a fall occurs or some other crisis – and that makes the original offer or alternative less achievable. There is no easy answer to this. If they refuse to leave, we have to do the best we can.

  21. Elderly White Man From Skipton

    At the heart of this problem is the assumption that taxpayers fund aged care. No one noticed the cost until it began to escalate and then the Government cut funding in three Budgets in a row. The RC is another opportunity to canvas the issues (already recorded by a various bodies and reviews): there are over 800 providers and most have limited resources, quality standards have changed markedly and drive costs, staffing is in short supply and training is poor. Baby boomer numbers began to hit the system a few years ago and will peak in about 15 years. In short, the system is failing and it’s certain to blow up.
    Politicians don’t want to say it, but aged care is going to user pays, at least for the care people are demanding. The cost of a safety net model of the kind proposed by COTA etc is another $30b a year (current cost is about $20b).

  22. Helen

    The other thing I would say abut MyAgedCare is that is is not at all friendly for an oldie to use, especially if they are not computer literate. There is no way Mum would have been able to apply for it by herself. She is not computer literate and does not have one, yet the forms are got form the internet she has to be registered on myagedcare on the internet, it is all bloody internet but if I or another child did not do it, she would never have accessed it. Because she did not have the means or ability to apply.

    Now times that by however many oldeis and you get a fair wedge slipping through the net.

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