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The implications of the recently announced aged care royal commission are already being felt in the Crikey comments section. Readers made their predictions and remarks in response to two pieces — Bernard Keane on the Labor myth of Liberal aged care sector cuts, and the long history of aged care inquiries (by Kishor Napier-Raman, writing with Keane). The consensus was clear: even if the government wanted to fix all that’s broken in the sector, would they be able to?

On the aged care royal commission

Robert Smith writes: Soon the ABC will not even have to make the program to get the government to start a royal commission, just announce they intend to make a program about an issue. That will save everyone a lot of money and time.

Laurie Patton writes: Most royal commissions simply prove how badly governed we are these days. SA premier Steve Marshall addressed a recent gathering of public servants, saying: “I’ve told my ministers they cannot expect to remain in cabinet if they see nothing, hear nothing and question nothing. Ministers have to be inquisitive, inquiring and challenging.” If that had happened at a federal level we wouldn’t need royal commissions into banking and aged care would we? Surely ministers and their departments know what needs fixing? If they don’t, why are they there?

Ill fares the land writes: As I see this, the systemic problem that afflicts aged care is the same in principle that afflicts any service that is government funded. The problem is lack of adequate regulation not funding, although the sector will always demand more funding. Whether not-for or for-profit, the incentive is to get more funding and reduce costs. 

Mary Wood writes: As Bill Shorten pointed out Sunday on Insiders, we already know what some of the solutions are. Number one: staffing. Funding must be tied to staffing levels. Staff are the most expensive cost in aged care and managers, especially in the for-profit sector are ruthless in cutting costs wherever they can. Further, wages in the sector are woeful. The providers will fight this measure tooth and nail. I was in charge of a 76 bed nursing home for eight-hours plus — during this time I had to problem-solve, oversee care, dispense medications and make sure they were swallowed (often not easy or quick), plus answer phone calls, queries from relatives, contact doctors when necessary (and it often was). I don’t think I ever left work on time, and of course overtime was not paid —  in fact were told not to enter actual hours worked on time-sheets.

The accreditation systems in place address none of these issues, they are systems designed by bureaucrats for bureaucrats and far too much valuable time is taken up by the requirement to document everything, often in three or four different places. I could go on, but suffice to say that my family are well aware of my loathing of the nursing home sector. I would much rather expose myself to a freezing winter night and die of hypothermia, or take some other means of exit.

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