Following last month’s announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that there would be a royal commission into the aged care sector in Australia, people have begun to share their own experiences and concerns about the range and quality of care on offer to senior Aussies.
Many people in the Starts at 60 community understandably have concerns when it comes to the prospect of entering aged care, revealing they worry about everything from failing to fully understanding their options, to abuse, neglect and struggling to afford sufficient care.
We received almost 1,000 responses to an online poll which asked readers to share their biggest concerns about the sector, with the majority (13.7 per cent) telling us they were most afraid of falling victim to abuse, neglect or malpractice at the hands of staff in aged care facilities.
These findings come after the ABC’s Four Corners program aired an in-depth investigation in September, into the abuse of elderly patients just days after the prime minister confirmed there would be a royal commission.
The second biggest worry among readers was revealed to be the increasing cost of services, with 9.3 per cent admitting they are concerned about being able to afford sufficient care when they need it. Many people also expressed their concern over the profit-geared focus of the industry.
Survey respondent Jen McDonald-Conolly said: “This system operates only as a money-making business first, with compassionate care a very sad last. The degeneration of human understanding in ‘duty of care and decency’ today, is utterly heartbreaking.”
Another major concern, claiming 6.7 per cent of the vote, was understaffing, with many readers telling us they were concerned about a lack of trained aged care workers, which could lead to patients having to go days without showering, or without having their incontinence pads changed regularly.
Reader Penny Sandilands, from the Gold Coast, shared her personal experiences with us, having helped to care for her father who resided in an aged care facility. She told us: “My Dad was in aged care. The staff were great but so understaffed, they were run ragged.
“Just before he died, he wanted to look at the beach. He was bedridden so I asked for a small portable bed so I could wheel him across the road. It never came, so I took him out in his bed. No one noticed. I also did some volunteer work in an aged care. Once again too understaffed. People were left sitting on toilets for a long time, or having accidents in bed.
“I think a lot of the problems could be solved with a lot more staff but, the question is, will the big companies hire more staff?”
Also high on the list of concerns was the prospect of having to leave the family home (4.7 per cent), while 3.5 per cent of respondents told us they were worried about the lack of information, clearly detailing the choices and options that are available to them.
Readers also shared their annoyance at the wages received by the country’s top politicians, whilst ordinary older Australians struggle to get by on the age pension or are paying out for necessary care. While another common concern were the contracts used by aged care providers, as well as the poor quality of food on offer to patients and the issue of whistleblowers being bullied or penalised for exposing poor practices.
Starts at 60 want to hear from you, our readers! Do you have a story about your own negative experiences with the aged care sector that you’d like to share? Contact our editorial team at [email protected] and your story could be published here.