Aged care inquiry looks at quality of life

(Australian Associated Press)

 

A royal commission hearing will likely uncover further evidence of a total disregard for the wellbeing of aged care residents, an advocate says.

The aged care royal commission is focusing on the quality of care and quality of life during a public hearing in Darwin and Cairns that begins on Monday.

Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association policy manager Paul Versteege said before quality of life could be dealt with, the essential safety aspects of aged care needed to be addressed.

“You need to get the basics right before you can actually start talking about giving people a meaningful life,” he told AAP.

Mr Versteege said the industry could previously argue problems in nursing homes were exceptions and the vast majority were providing quality care, but that had been “blown out of the water” by media coverage and royal commission investigations.

“I expect that the Darwin and Cairns hearings will provide further evidence of basically the total disregard for the wellbeing of residents in residential aged care,” he said.

The long-time aged care advocate said every problem in nursing homes could be traced back to understaffing, in terms of both numbers and qualifications.

“It is sometimes hard to believe when I go past certain nursing homes that look lovely and I actually know that some horrible stuff is going on in there in terms of people not getting fed properly, pressure sores developing and not being attended to.”

The royal commission will focus on a range of issues in residential, home and flexible aged care programs, including access, wound care, medication, nutrition and social supports.

The witnesses at this week’s hearing in Darwin and next week’s sitting in Cairns will include relatives of three people, two of whom have died, who lived in aged care facilities in NSW and Victoria.

Representatives of Aboriginal health services are the first witnesses appearing in Darwin on Monday.

There will be a pre-recorded video from an Aboriginal elder living in residential care in Darwin.

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