|The Global Mail - Aged Care Investigation|
|Friday, 24 February 2012 02:16 | Print page:|
23 Mar 2012: Care and concerns: Nursing homes mapped
8 Mar 2012: Inside Australia's Nursing Homes: "I see how vulnerable they are. If families aren't coming around, who's protecting them?"
23 Feb 2012: "Let's raise a toast!" Aged Care leaders joke about kerosene baths
22 Feb 2012: How our twilight years are ripe for the picking
Feedback to Aged Care Crisis re The Global Mail - Aged Care Investigation articles
Combined Pensioners & Superannuants Association (CPSA) has consistently criticised COTA, Alzheimers Australia and Carers Australia, who are consumer organisations, for joining the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA), which, in the words of COTA CEO Yates, is "provider-dominated".
When they joined NACA, they agreed to be bound by NACA's policy positions, which, logically and in practice, are also "provider-dominated".
COTA, Alzheimers Australia and Carers Australia have a clear conflict of interest, because by joining NACA they allow consumers to be crowded out by providers and the people that work for them.
What they have done is the equivalent of Greenpeace becoming a member of the Minerals Council.
Mr Yates' letter of 2 March 2012 to the Global Mail bears all the hallmarks of anger prompted by the realisation of having been found out and exposed.
CPSA believes that Australian home owners young and old would generally be appalled that the Federal Government is now seriously contemplating charging co-contributions for any aged care, whether it's in a nursing home or at home or under the Home And Community Care program (also known as homecare) against the equity in their house to a lifetime maximum of $60,000 per person.
They would be generally even more appalled to learn that the Government would allow uncapped nursing home accommodation fees to be charged against their home equity.
CPSA respects the right of COTA, Alzheimers Australia and Carers Australia to support this, but points out that these organisations have arrived at their position through a tainted process. Through their continued membership of NACA, anything these organisations say about aged care is and will be compromised.
COTA and Alzheimers Australia, after having adopted their position and making public statements, then used specific Federal Government funding to conduct public consultation.
CPSA's view is that COTA and Alzheimers Australia's public consultation should have preceded the adoption of their policy position. It's a clear case of putting the cart before the horse. The outcome of their public consultation will by definition be compromised, because they had an interest in steering public opinion towards the policy position they had already adopted.
Paul Versteege, Policy Coordinator, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, 23 March, 2012
The debate following this article, and in that in the related article How our twilight years are ripe for the picking raises a number of interesting issues. There is a truism that in seeking causes you should follow the money trail.
FUNDING: Government funding is essential, when organizations representing the community are not sufficiently financially supported by the community. COTA (Victoria) for example gets 86% of its funding from government grants. This is a double edged sword.
Organisations that are seen to be credible within establishment thinking are likely to benefit and this can influence the behavior of applicants and their willingness to criticize. Competitive pressures in parliament can tempt politicians to employ the leverage this gives them in support of their policies. Human's are frail and our thinking is malleable. We rationalize the acceptability of the things we decide to do and then defend them strenuously.
DIALOGUE: Dialogue between community groups and providers is desirable and cannot be criticized as such but, when one belief system is presented as self-evident truth by a dominant majority in the consulting group, then there is strong pressure to become part of that culture and adopt its beliefs.
COMMUNITY CONCERNS: As a community concerned that bodies that claim to represent us and express our views about aged care are succumbing to these pressures we should examine the differing submissions made to the Productivity Commission by COTA when contrasted with National Seniors as well the differences in their public statements.
We should also consider COTA's alignment with the providers in NACA, in their strong and largely unqualified support of the Productivity Commission's Recommendations. There is much in the Commission's report that the community should debate and criticize. COTA's low key marketing of the minister's public discussions and their failure to generate press coverage of these discussions is worth noting.
We should ask ourselves whether the tone and content of the email correspondence between Yates and other NACA executives described here suggests cultural colonization.
6 March, 2012
I'm not sure which issue in this article I find more disturbing:
The fact that a senior aged care industry provider has chosen to "joke" about kerosene baths at resident's expense (and the fact that so many others who were part of the same email chain, unresponsive to the poor judgement in the joke);
OR COTA's insistence that they purport to be a "peak body" representing consumers - conflicts heavily with the cosy relationship Ian Yate's written comment's re ties with NACA – and boasting proudly to be a member of a "provider professional dominated body";
OR the uber cosy relationship and reliance COTA has on the government for it's existence – especially when COTA Victoria's 2011 annual report shows that a large chunk of funding came from government grants (nearly 90%!). This also indicates that their very existence depends on government…
which brings me to my final and last disturbing points …
The absence of independence in COTA's "ageing conversations" (paid by government) – which, there has been little or no effort in transparency by COTA to transparently publish or report on the issues raised at each session, or by whom.
In fact, one could question who's interests are being represented at these sessions – COTA's, aged care providers, or government? Certainly not consumers.
Whether Yates likes it or not, the government is well and truly in the pockets of COTA (Victoria at the very least) – and consumers would be right in questioning COTA's allegiance to consumers.
Margaret, 25 Feb 2012
Ignore what they say and follow the money when you want an explanation.
I examined COTA Victoria's Annual Report for 2011 and noted that 86% of its funding was from government grants.
Are other state branches similarly funded? Do any get grants from the industry?
Without government support COTA Victoria might not survive.
Governments don't like community groups that are truly independent, speak out, stir the pot and create conflict. They lose votes.
The interviews with the minister were poorly advertised and the proceedings poorly reported in the press.
Did the government really want independent critics asking difficult questions or just to claim it had consulted?
Michael, 23 Feb 2012