The Royal Commission

Sixteen months ago, I wasn’t convinced we were answering the big question about aged care. That remains my view. Reposted…

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released an interim report yesterday. The document is a sad reflection of the horrific evidence of cruelty and incompetence presented to that inquiry since its establishment by Scott Morrison last September. This is the most important royal commission to have been called for decades and credit must be given to the ABC for exposés that gave the Prime Minister no choice but to act.

Over the past two years, I read about (but could not bring myself to watch) the undercover footage that was broadcast proving abuse at various “homes.” The thoughts of everyone who did watch, or who learned about the assaults by other media, turned instinctively to their own beloved elderly. That substitution made it heartbreaking and enraging. But when the commission condemns “the system” for having been so demonstrably “unkind and uncaring,” I fear it veers disturbingly close to saying – in unison with Dalrymple’s infamous murderer patient – “The Knife Went In.” Because a “system” is not responsible for anything. It cannot be kind and caring. Or are the commissioners avoiding something more confronting to let us all off the hook?

Pointing the finger is usually discouraged during a ‘national conversation’ of this kind but provided you’re pointing at the actual problem and not trying to make somebody else feel guilty, there is no reason to holster it. The truth is we have grown less and less personally committed to the care of the elderly. Anglophones are rare in some of these institutions. Prestige-wise, it’s accurate to say most native-born Australians do not value the work at all. There can be selfishness behind putting a loved one “into care” – our “lifestyle” usually comes first – but mostly it’s a pragmatic decision or a medically necessary one. We’re busy, after all, and looking after the old – to a generation that has never known an extended family – is one of the things the state is ‘supposed’ to do.

Today’s press coverage on the commission report emphasises increased funding (of course), better training and more rigorous accountability. These might even do a lot of good but I doubt they will do much to salve the unmeasurable despondency to be found in “homes” that aren’t.

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25 Responses to The Royal Commission

  1. Ed Case says:

    Are Nursing Home staff completely Unionised?
    Do Nursing Home owners take advantage of Government subsidies for employing otherwise unemployable people?
    Does the Union decide who gets a job?
    Remember Kathy Jackson and quite a few other lived high flying lifestyles out of dough provided by members who didn’t ask questions?

  2. Roger says:

    The prospect of unannounced inspections might go some way to improving standards.

  3. Mick Gold Coast QLD says:

    Another useless study ignoring the vital issues, which has kept a gaggle of Allen Allen Allen Allen Allen Allen and Hemsley solicitors in work, assisting the commissioner, for a couple of years protecting the parties their instructing party directed them to protect.

    Whoever the commissioner was enjoyed his retirement bonus I’m sure.

  4. PB says:

    “Are Nursing Home staff completely Unionised?”

    Are large part of why they are staffed as they are nowadays is to stop this very thing from happening.

  5. Albatross says:

    Hate to agree with Mick C.L., but the use and abuse of Royal Commissions these days is a national disgrace

  6. notafan says:

    Roger

    Exactly

    I said the same about hotel quarantine in Victoria.

    Spot audits, always.

  7. C.L. says:

    The point I’m making is there will never be loving care in institutions for our elderly. Why should strangers do what we won’t?

    That is the real issue. Not money or training or random inspections.

  8. Tim Neilson says:

    Spot audits, always.

    True, but spot audits by whom?

    As CL says it is often a medical necessity that very elderly people are put into aged care facilities. I was lucky that the places that my parents went into were very good. But even after my father died and my mother was in such an advanced state of dementia that she didn’t always recognise who I was, I always visited at least once a week, and took care to look around her room to make sure that it was clean and well kept. I suspect I didn’t need to because it was a very high quality place, but I regarded it as my responsibility to satisfy myself that she was being well cared for. I don’t think that outsourcing that to bureaucrats would necessarily ensure proper outcomes.

  9. Tel says:

    Remember to always maintain laser focus on what matters most.

    If you went for a surf in 2020 then YOU are the granny killer … no one else!!!!!

  10. Jannie says:

    credit must be given to the ABC for exposés that gave the Prime Minister no choice but to act.

    How come the ABC decides when to call a Royal Commission, whether its warranted or not?

  11. C.L. says:

    Jannie, I hate the ABC as much as the next sensible man but the exposes they broadcast about abuse of elderly people constituted good journalism.

    That’s not to say they’re interested in the cultural conversation about true reform. The ABC believes the answer is truckloads of money (as usual).

  12. Mick Gold Coast QLD says:

    Albatross says at 10:00 pm:

    “Hate to agree with Mick C.L., but …”

    You can shove that right up yer clacker petal.

  13. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    This is a difficult issue since the nursing homes have an ever increasing problem, but one which cannot be talked about. Dementia is the 2nd biggest cause of the death in Australia and since 2016 the leading cause of death for Australian women.

    That’s a staggering set of statistics.

    In effect we have been so successful in treating other diseases of old age that what is left is the decline of the brain, which is very complex and difficult to treat. The things that took people off have gone: influenza deaths have been nil since April last year. Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. Heart disease with stents (best wishes to 99 yr old Prince Phillip!) Cancer is now treated with an impressive array of tools.

    The trouble with the brain is when you go cuckoo it can be bad. Nursing homes have to now deal with people who are frail and violent, because their brains are haywire. How do you cope with that plus incontinence and all the rest of it? The staff are only human. It is a terrible problem.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but to criticize nursing homes for their care is one sided, since in some cases at least the patients are the problem – even if they aren’t responsible for their behaviour.

  14. TBH says:

    The issues uncovered with aged care over the last few years have led me to think that I don’t want any loved one of mine going into one of these places unless medically necessary to do so. Even my mother in law, who I can’t stand, deserves better. I’m inclined to think that living in one’s own home for as long as possible would be a better solution, unless the person in question craves companionship (which my MiL actually does).

  15. Faye says:

    My husband was in hospital with his leg in traction for two months. That bed was his world. However, he has very good hearing and from that bed he learnt the politics of his little world. There were excellent nurses who were God’s gift to patients and there were the other ones with the union attitude. They showed little care and slid out of every likely ‘job’ coming their way. The closed door down the hall with the big sign Nurses Union on it told the story. He was able to speak up when needed. Too many seniors in nursing homes are at the mercy of cruel ‘carers’.

  16. Albatross says:

    Mick Gold Coast QLD says:
    March 5, 2021 at 10:43 pm
    […]
    You can shove that right up yer clacker petal.

    Your feelings get hurt little buddy?

  17. notafan says:

    Tim Family would be the obvious first.

    There used to be bureaucrats capable of doing what was best, perhaps not any more.

  18. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    The ABC believes the answer is …

    … mass euthanasia of the aged (once the state has run out of other peoples’ money).

  19. Spurgeon Monkfish III says:

    I’m inclined to think that living in one’s own home for as long as possible would be a better solution

    Unless such a situation facilitates abuse and neglect, which it often can.

  20. Shy Ted says:

    The bureaucracy in aged care facilities (and pretty much everywhere else) is astonishing and ever-increasing. To the average person drawn to this sector it’s off-putting. Any “improvements” always come from academia with no skin in the game and always with more bureaucracy.
    Just scan quickly through this to see what’s involved.
    Still think the bureaucracy ain’t in charge? Navigate this little lot

  21. Gorilla Dance Party says:

    The point I’m making is there will never be loving care in institutions for our elderly. Why should strangers do what we won’t?

    That is the real issue. Not money or training or random inspections

    Spot on. Have a family member who worked in age and disability care who was often disgusted with what they saw. Ever cost-cutting leadership and often lazy, poorly qualified (and imported), work force.

    But all that being true, nobody who has put their “loved ones” in a facility can complain. It is their fault — though nobody will blame themselves. My grandad was unable to care for himself towards the end and was put in a facility but he had almost daily visits from his family who always made sure he was well cared for. I honestly don’t remember ever seeing another resident with a family visitor on my visits and I understand that most seldom receive visitors at all.

    The nonsense of last year was another great example of how much “compassion” our society has for the elderly. The few who actually receive family visits were prevented from seeing anyone because if any got sick the facilities would be liable to the families who would definitely care how much money they could get out of it.

  22. Chris M says:

    This is the most important royal commission to have been called for decades

    Why? Because boomers?

    It’s not a new thing, just getting worse. It’s to be expected the same people that support the murder of babies are certainly not going to be concerned about care for the old ones and are keen to be rid of them also. The only old thing that carries their respect is the earth and its imaginary ‘gaia’. Romans 1.

  23. H B Bear says:

    Gorilla Dance Party at 10.08am As someone who has spent the last 18 months in a disabled assisted living facility for people with acquired brain injuries it is interesting watching people’s experiences with visitors. My old mates haven’t been much good. But they weren’t much good before I got here either. And I confess I wasn’t not much better. People all lead busy lives and it is all to easy to forget about those we probably shouldn’t.

  24. TBH says:

    Unless such a situation facilitates abuse and neglect, which it often can.

    Yes of course

  25. Gorilla Dance Party says:

    It’s to be expected the same people that support the murder of babies are certainly not going to be concerned about care for the old ones and are keen to be rid of them also.

    An often overlooked point that applies to everything the governments do. Almost every state has quite aggressively passed laws allowing the extermination of the most innocent people in society. Why should you believe they are moral about anything when most politicians (including Libs) support that?

    People all lead busy lives and it is all to easy to forget about those we probably shouldn’t.

    “People all lead busy lives” is like saying “It’s 2021…” before trying to justify something. Not an argument. Yes, I’m guilty of lacking in charity and forgetting my duties too but that doesn’t excuse me from me from them.

    This RC is just more buck passing and another excuse for Morrison and co. to “hold back tears” on National television with a carefully crafted speech. In healthy societies families look after each other. They don’t expect the government to raise and educate their children and care for their parents. Keith Windschuttle in his book on Pell pointed out that pollies have been finding excuses to do this since Rudd apologised for something that never happened in 2007.

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