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Peak bodies have their say on the aged care royal commission

Major aged care peak bodies have called for changes of the system, including new training programs and frequent inspections

Peak bodies will call for mandatory dementia education for aged care workers across all parts of the system during the royal commission.

Dementia Australia Chief Executive, Maree McCabe, said with more than 50 per cent of people in residential aged care living with a dementia diagnosis, a minimum level of specific training should become a national prerequisite across all aged care systems.

“The staffing resources in terms of number and skills mix needs to be sufficient to meet the complex care needs of people living with dementia,” she said.

“Governments, providers, health professionals and consumers must work together to develop agreed and clearly articulated dementia quality care standards, enshrined in regulation, to ensure that dementia is core business in the aged-care industry.”

The commission will also hear evidence from care providers for the first time.

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), a peak body representing providers of home care and residential homes, will appear before the inquiry with Chief Executive, Sean Rooney, already pledging to work with the investigation to build a better system.

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Rooney is expected to provide the commission with a sector perspective on how the current system operates and how it can be improved.

“All Australians want a safe, high quality and high performing aged care system. The community expects it, and older Australians deserve nothing less,” he said.

Rooney said the majority of providers and their staff did their best every day to meet the needs of those in care but there had been examples of unacceptable failures.

“We are committed to realising a better aged care system. A better aged care system that delivers care, support and services with compassion, high quality and safety at all times. Aged care is an issue of national importance. It is too important not to get right.”

This comes as residential aged care facilities could be inspected in the early hours of the morning, late at night or on weekends under a program of unannounced checks, the aged care royal commission also heard.

Under current arrangements, homes can be subject to checks at any stage in the three months leading up to their accreditation expiring. But the newly appointed Aged Care Quality Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson, said her group had just embarked on a program to extend out-of-hours inspections.

“It would commence in an out-of-hours period, possibly at five o’clock in the morning, or it may commence after hours of an evening or, indeed, on a weekend. We expect the implementation [of that program] will proceed over the next two months,” she said.

She added they would be less prepared than if the commission designated a day and a time. The question of advanced notice of inspections was an issue in investigations of the poor treatment of dementia patients at Adelaide’s infamous Oakden home.

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