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Is the aged care system just another symptom of a mismanagement with increasingly broken capabilities? Crikey readers seemed to think so, and had suggestions that could go some way to address its myriad problems. The takeaway: we’ve seen this pattern before; the royal commission will be hard-pressed to bring true change.

On aged care 

Laurie Patton writes: Accounts of systemic failures in aged care are the latest revelations to expose how fundamentally ineffective our governments and their agencies have become. Why do we need to keep having formal inquiries before anything is done about known problems in government administration and abject market failures? Problems that so dramatically impact on the lives of the most disadvantaged among us. We need to ponder how we’ve ended up with a bunch of politicians so many of whom seem to have little idea about the lives of the people they are elected to represent and even less interest in finding out.

Glen Davis writes: No, the royal commission will not change what is needed. The government does not want to hear the solution, so the royal commission will not speak it. I have come to learn from my own experience and other carers that the “home care providers” are a protected species which colludes in the operation of regional oligopolies. They offer no more than a legislated prime contractor role. They abuse their market power to offer contracts which deliberately gouge vulnerable carers. If the Commonwealth was to cut by 25% its total expenditure on home care packages, but provide the remaining 75% assistance directly to the carers, the Commonwealth would double the productivity of in-home care in Australia.

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Claire Luckett writes: Better training and care is needed from the medical profession. My mother-in-law started showing signs of anxiety/depression in her early 90s & the drugs she was prescribed ended up causing polypharmaceutical delirium. She was on three different drugs, the doses were upped without a phase-in period then abruptly stopped — it was impossible to get her into a psychiatrist or gerontologist within about a six-month period. Thank goodness we have not had to face the aged care home problems outlined in the royal commission report — but if good medical care had been available in a timely way it is likely she could have remained in her home on a home care package for much longer. It seems that, in general, the most expensive form of aged care has to be provided (by individuals and the taxpayer) because we don’t have adequate numbers of trained medical personnel (whether specialists, GPs , nurses, social workers etc). Plus there is a long waiting period for home care packages.

Shefali Rovik writes: For those of us who can remember it, at the beginning of the Howard years the largest aged care provider Moran persuaded the PM that the long-established government aged care checks were unnecessary and counterproductive; in fact the industry would be the best regulator of itself. The entire system of checks and balances and accreditations was dismantled seemingly overnight. It was interesting to hear Josh Frydenberg musing that it was a surprise that the aged care industry did not better regulate itself. An echo of similar surprise that the banking royal commission revealed so much that the bankers were not the best regulators of themselves in the interests of consumers. How many royal commissions are we going to need to reveal how woeful self regulation is when addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in Australian society?

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Peter Fray
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