The Royal Commission into aged care announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on September 18 has been welcomed by the Port’s leading aged care facilities Regis and Harbourside Haven.
The privately owned Regis at Corlette offers 150 places aged care places including ageing-in-place, dementia care, palliative care, respite care and supported care.
A Regis spokesperson said that the group supported the establishment of the Royal Commission and any measures that mean senior Australians are able to consistently receive quality aged care.
“We will work with the commission and the government to ensure the aged care industry is sustainable into the future,” the spokesperson said.
The non-for-profit Port Stephens Veterans & Citizens Aged Care, or Harbourside Haven, has around 185 residents living in care facilities at Shoal Bay and Fingal Bay. The Shoal Bay nursing home is currently undertaking a $2 million refurbishment.
Board chairman Gerry Mohan said his organisation supported the intervention into the aged care industry and hoped that the terms of reference would cover a broad range of issues and not just focus on areas around medication, falls prevention and remuneration.
He claims the industry is already both heavily regulated and extremely underfunded.
“The investigation should be free from politics, industry groups and investment organisations and hopefully result in a better care system that assists the aged and frail to live in a safe and healthy environment,” Mr Mohan said.
“The industry needs dedicated employees who want to work in aged care and who understand the needs of the elderly.”
Mr Mohan said there was a need for better education and awareness of the public on some of the challenges facing aged care providers.
“Over the past three years we have unsuccessfully attempted to secure full-time registered nurses. So unless there was a sudden escalation of available nurses the ratio argument is flawed. Unfortunately, a large percentage of registered nurses (RNs) do not want to work in aged care.”
Mr Mohan said he also hoped there would be equality in funding and equality in allocating aged care packages, regardless of whether the recipients reside in a care facility or at home.
He said there also needed to be a mechanism for staff, volunteers and managers to raise their concerns when they are abused or assaulted by residents and residents’ families.
Harbourside’s CEO Sheree Gemmell acknowledged the increasing concern from residents, loved ones, the wider community and media about the quality of aged care.
“There is no room in this industry for poor and inattentive care and we at Harbourside have zero tolerance for criminal abuse, assault or negligence,” Mrs Gemmell said.
“There are major workforce challenges now and into the future and we are working on our longer term workforce strategy to ensure we can continue to provide quality services.
“The new quality standards to be introduced from July 2019 will change the way services are offered with key outcomes focused on person-centred care.”
Mrs Gemmell said that Harbourside was accredited in 2107 for three years and continues to have unannounced audits conducted at its two care facilities.
“We are always reviewing our clinical data and trends an implement improvement action plans where required. We have a robust complaints system and internal audit program.”
Harbourside employs 330 staff, 47 per cent of which have been with the company for more than five years, and RNs are available on-call 24 hours a day.
“Our staff have varied skills and qualifications and we engage in ongoing training and education. We also have dedicated volunteers who provide advocacy services for residents where required.”
Also available on site are a range of allied health staff including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, dietitians and podiatrists.
“Our residents have the opportunity to contribute to the care and services they receive and we encourage families to raise concerns of issues with our facility coordinators.”