The aged care sector seems to have been under constant attack for the last 18 months. After the revelations of abuse of residents at Oakden in South Australia and complaints about abuse of residents in other facilities in Australia the government established the Royal Commission into Aged Care Standards and Quality.
The Royal Commission heard a lot of evidence about poor and inadequate treatment of residents. Then, along came COVID-19. Despite all residential care facilities in Australia going into lockdown since mid-March, there have been serious outbreaks in two facilities in New South Wales in April, and more recently at a number of facilities in Victoria.
Sadly, most of the deaths in Australia from COVID-19 have been from residents in aged care facilities. These have occurred despite the best efforts of most facility operators and the relevant public health authorities.
This blog does not attempt to comment on why this has occurred. The Royal Commission produced its interim findings of shortcomings in the systems and made 6 recommendations for improvement. The government has accepted the recommendations and has already announced that it will provide a substantial injection of funds into the industry to address some of these problems. But considerably more money will have to be made available to the sector on an ongoing basis and some structural reforms made, particularly in the field of oversight.
Amid all the negative publicity it is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of aged care facilities in Australia have not had any cases of COVID-19 nor been subject to adverse comments about the standard of care they provide. Many of the facilities which were affected by COVID-19 were described by family members of residents as providing high quality care prior to the cases occurring.
Understandably in the current health and political climate there is a reluctance to move into aged care or relocate their loved one into an aged care facility.
Why Place Your Loved One in an Aged Care Facility?
For the most part it is because that person cannot cope at home despite receiving assistance. Generally it is because the person is too difficult to move and needs to be lifted with the aid of a hoist, needs all their meals prepared, is incontinent or is at risk of wandering. Of course, this list is not exhaustive.
In Western Australia there has to date been no community based outbreak of the pandemic, including in aged care facilities. The operators of aged care facilities have followed the Department of Health guidelines rigidly. Although some of the very strict rules imposed in mid-March have been relaxed, visits to facilities by non-residents and staff are closely controlled and regulated.
Since I started All About Aged Care at the beginning of the year, I have visited numerous facilities. Many of them are new or near new. You would be excused for thinking that in some you had stumbled into a 5 star hotel lobby and the rooms are equally impressive. Other facilities are older. But the consistent impression I have been left with is the cleanliness of the facilities and the dedication and commitment of the staff to make life as comfortable as possible for each of their residents.
If you or a loved one feel that the time has come to move into aged care in Western Australia, give me a call (without any cost or obligation) and I can tell you about the process and what options are available to you at the moment.