Time to make aged care accountable.
Accountable to who?
To citizens and their communities
Please support our campaign to make this happen
Aged care has been a mess for 20 years and a Royal Commission into aged care has described widespread neglect and abuse.
Industry groups are lobbying government hard to support the sort of changes they want, but which are not in the best interests of Australia and its senior citizens.
They are trying to steal the reform agenda from under our noses. We need to look closely at who they are, what their record is and what they want.
What has been happening?
For the last 20 years we have had an industry-led aged care system, supported by government. As a community we have had to accept their dominance and trust them. That trust is in tatters. Between them they have neglected and abused our parents and grandparents, then lied repeatedly over the entire 20-year period. This is not how a democracy works.
Residents and families fear retribution and nurses fear for their jobs. Nurses have spoken out about what was happening and have been fired for doing so. Families who spoke out have been threatened with legal action. Researchers who described what their research revealed have been attacked and discredited.
Failures have been so bad and have occurred so commonly, that those responsible must have known what was happening. Yet, for the last 20 years we have been told that we have a 'world class' system with 'world class' regulation and isolated failures were due to a few bad apples.
We were lied to. We were deceived.
Who was responsible? Who has been lying to us?
First, both major political parties' policies are deeply flawed and instead of fixing problems, they have lied and misled us.
Second, the aged care industry has presided over neglect and abuse and hidden that from us. Its reputation is in tatters. They must have known. They were not only complicit, this was the system they wanted and they helped design it.
Both political parties and industry know fixing this will take time. There will be more failures and the public is weary. They want this hot potato back in the cupboard with their other skeletons as soon as possible because there is an election on the horizon. They will opt for a quick fix to get it out of sight again.
Urgent action is needed, but opting for more quick fixes is not in our communities or our citizen's best interests. We need a path to a permanent solution.
We must stop politicians and industry from putting aged care back in the cupboard. They must involve us so that we know what is happening.
As caring citizens and communities, it is our responsibility to see that our parents and grandparents are well cared for. Providers of care need to be directly accountable to the communities they serve, rather than some distant and impersonal out of touch government body.
What they should be doing is inviting communities to the table and then working with them to provide the sort of care they expect their family members to get. Instead, industry has rallied to form a new group called the ‘Australian Aged Care Collaboration' (AACC) which is planning to restore their tarnished reputations by marketing at citizens.
The AACC has launched a marketing blitz to persuade the public to support the quick fix wanted by the industry. They are exploiting politician's desire to get this out of the public eye and are lobbying hard for more money.
As part of their campaign, the AACC has prepared a report titled "Time to care about aged care" which describes the Royal Commission's findings and inadequate funding by government. They highlight the 31 inquiries that failed to resolve the problems but importantly, do not explain why they failed. They make it clear that they did not have the money to provide the care needed, but that is only half the story.
They are trying to shift their share of the blame to government.
Industry is hiding their responsibility for neglect and abuse.
Their campaign website and social media presence "Care About Aged Care” is asking the public to sign a petition to their elected members supporting industry. Those signing the petition don't really know what they are supporting.
They are still deceiving us and we must call that out urgently.
What they are frightened of
The one thing industry and government don't want, is independent local citizens from communities looking over their shoulders to see that their older fellow citizens are well cared for. The last time this was proposed, they derisively called it the ‘community busybody scheme'. Clearly that is exactly what is needed.
A good ‘busybody' scheme would make providers accountable to the community they serve. This is what is needed and it was first recommended in the 1980s. Since then, both political parties and industry have promised accountability and then connived in avoiding it.
They are frightened of citizens and of being accountable to them.
The real story
The real story is that this is industry's system. They have worked closely with government since 1997. They are well represented on government bodies and have been charged with responsibilities including oversight of accreditation and complaints. They are equally guilty but do not want to admit it.
In 2014, industry received a windfall of additional funding, but that money did not go to care or staffing. Industry used it to build ever-bigger empires. Large profits were made and the lavish lifestyles of owners and senior executives featured in the press.
In 2016, government were forced to crack down on extensive rorting of the system. In its enthusiasm to compete, industry overspent on expansions and was left with large debts. Some are now in real financial difficulty. With so many residents in their care, we have no choice but to rescue them, but this must be on the community's terms and not theirs.
The system that neglected and abused senior Australians was the one industry designed. If industry want more money, there must be full accountability for how taxpayer's funds are being spent.
What should we do?
Aged Care Crisis has been watching this system for many years and has made large numbers of submissions to inquiries. Over the last twelve years it has joined with others in pressing for greater community involvement and accountability. It has suggested ways in which this could be done.
What citizens need is a community-led aged care system where our communities decide what happens. They need a system where government and industry is directly accountable to them. In a democracy, government's prospects should depend on supporting citizens and communities, not wealthy businesses.
We should use our collective power to insist on a community-led aged care system
Please support our campaign
We ask you to support greater accountability of aged care to our communities so that we can work together to protect our parents and grandparents from neglect and abuse.
This also calls for urgent action and increased funding, but it demands that it be accompanied by equally urgently working together with regional and local governments and their communities. There should be fully accountability for how taxpayer's funds are being spent.
After years of neglect, communities need help and support from their governments if they are to create local or regional organisations that will work with and observe local aged care providers to ensure that they provide the services expected by the communities.
This would ensure that each community and its members know exactly what is happening, can help their members make informed choices and ensure the providers are held accountable for the service they provide. This will take time but we cannot afford to wait.
Please read our report for more information. Unlike the AACC, we want you to understand what you are supporting and why it is needed.
You can support this campaign by:
- Sharing a link to this page
- Reaching out to politicians and letting them know you want to be heard
- Sharing your views and experiences with us
- Sharing our posts and messages widely and on social media platforms, eg, Twitter, etc.
Aged Care Crisis has prepared a number of supporting pages giving greater insight into what has been happening, which are outlined and summarised below.
We show how a 'community-led aged care system' looks like and how it will empower communities to hold both providers and government to account and prevent more neglect and abuse in the future.
We briefly explain what a community-led aged care system will look like below in the supporting pages section.
For the last 12 years Aged Care Crisis have been pressing unsuccessfully for a community-led system. The Royal Commission has exposed 20 years of widespread neglect and abuse by the market-led system. It makes multiple recommendations for more money, more training and more regulation, but it still leaves us with a market-led system that is not accountable to citizens.
If we are still unable to get enough support for a community-led system, we will probably stop wasting our time, wrap up Aged Care Crisis and leave the rest of you to be neglected and abused when you get old while we enjoy the rest of our lives as best we can!
Read more: Challenging the Australian Aged Care Collaboration
This page directly challenges and refutes the claims made by the Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AACC) in its report and its campaign.
It describes the difference between market and community led systems then briefly explains the claims made in the AACC report and their denial of culpability.
It describes the extensive involvement of the industry with government in every step of the development of this system. This was their system and nothing was done without their approval. They supported all of the reforms that did not work and failed us all.
Unhappiness in the workplace: The page then describes how the different approach by an industry-led aged care service creates cultural conflicts that lead to unhappiness among staff and so poor care.
Provider types and the AACC: The page describes the different types of provider, and the organisations that have formed to represent them. It describes the way that religious and charitable providers responded and adapted to a market-led system and competition from those who were there to make a profit. It shows how much they have changed.
It describes how industry group ACSA and the religious providers have now become the public face of the AACC.
Learn more: Please read our challenge to the AACC report
Read more: A community-led aged care system
A community-led aged care system is a system where community takes overall control of and responsibility for care. It works closely with the market and government at a community level drawing on their expertise.
It selects providers it needs and wants and puts those who don't meet their expectations out of business.
It persuades other members of their communities to vote against governments who don’t do what is required to provide good care to elderly citizens.
In such a system:
- Government decentralises management and integrates aged care through regional and local officials. It employs people from within the communities served to carry out its activities.
- Community groups drawn from local communities become involved in aged care. They utilise the time and resources of healthy retirees and other interested volunteers. They play an important role in many of the basic support and oversight processes of aged care, like complaints resolution.
- The community groups would work closely with government employees and with local providers. They would meet regularly and the community participates in decisions.
- The community participates in planning the sort of services and facilities needed in their community. It actively participates in planning and then in contracting the construction of facilities that are needed. It participates in the selection and licensing/contracting of providers to deliver the care required.
- The community would be in a position to decide whom they will trust to provide services to their parents, grandparents and then themselves before they are licensed or contracted.
- The community would be in a position to easily replace a provider who fails to deliver the care they require. The current system would be restructured to make that possible.
- The community organisations would have a central body representing them and putting their views to central management, government and bodies representing other groups.
Learn more: A community-led aged care system (coming soon)
Read more: Why society has failed the elderly: The consequences of policy failure
We outline the root cause, the social disease, responsible for many failures. This disease has developed in society as its relationship with markets and government was changed. Aged care is simply one of the worst affected.
The page describes the changes that have occurred in society, in governments and in markets and in the way they relate to one another, over the last 30 to 40 years.
Civil society, once the bedrock of our democracy and the protector of our rights was for some strange reason seen as a threat to both our democracy and our rights as individuals. Markets and government have pushed it aside and formed an alliance that puts them above the society they should serve. Civil society has a vital role in democratic societies. The huge consequences of doing this have been ignored.
The many warnings that predicted what would happen were ignored and the many systems that have failed have been treated as isolated problems. The symptoms in each system were treated while the root cause, the underlying disease in society was ignored. Untreated it has recurred after claimed ‘reforms' and spread to other sectors which have failed (eg. banks to aged care).
A success story: The page describes how doctors in Australia recognised the problems, and by uniting were able to challenge government policy and then put those health care corporations that transgressed out of business. An example that we are urging our communities to follow.
Why it is never challenged: The page explains why it was so impossibly difficult for the over 30 inquiries into aged care carried out by believers in the market-led system to challenge the market-led system and even discuss the possibility of a community-led one. The Royal Commission had the same problem.
As a consequence, symptoms were treated often with good palliation but the disease persisted and soon recurred.
This is a longer and more in depth page, which quotes from the believers who adopted the system as well as those who saw the consequences, warned and were ignored. Most should get the gist of it.
Learn more: Why society has failed the elderly: The consequences of policy failure (coming soon)
Read more: An opportunity missed: The final report of the Royal Commission
Here we summarise the conclusions of the page above in point form. It answers some simple questions about the system and the Royal Commission and refers the reader to the previous page for fuller explanations.
The page describes the government and marketplace backgrounds of the three Commissioners as well as their initial response (and then lack of response) as Aged Care Crisis repeatedly challenged and blamed the failures on a market-led system that placed the market above the society it claimed to serve and denied them a role. It urged a decentralised but centrally mentored and integrated management and oversight structure.
It stressed the need for greater community involvement and control, and made suggestions for doing this. We include short quotes from some of our submissions and letters to illustrate the arguments we made.
The Commissioners did not challenge or analyse the role of the market-led system or discuss any sort of community oversight or control.
The Royal Commissioners recommended many sweeping changes in a seven-volume report and if followed, there will be many beneficial changes. It is going to be very costly. It remains a market-led system and communities will not have the power needed to hold anyone accountable.
We do not attempt to address the many issues covered, many of which we agree with.
It made a very good job of identifying the symptoms and its measures should give good palliation. But the underlying disease persists. We will still have a market-led system eager to forget the past.
It is likely that we will see a recurrence within 5, 10 or maybe more years.
Learn more: An opportunity missed: The final report of the Royal Commission (coming soon)