SYDNEY: Australia will launch a national inquiry into its scandal-plagued aged care sector, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, following numerous reports of abuse, neglect and mismanagement.
The announcement comes a year after a state-run dementia nursing home in South Australia state was shut when an investigation revealed horrific mistreatment of elderly residents over a 10-year period.
Since that scandal, the health department has closed almost one aged care service each month, while a growing number are failing to meet standards, Morrison said in a statement. “Incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused,” he added. “We must be assured about how widespread these cases are… there clearly remains areas of concern with regard to the quality and safety of aged care services.”
The inquiry will probe profit and non-for-profit organisations, and also look at the care given to younger Australians with disabilities living in such facilities. There has been a 177 percent leap in the number of aged-care homes where a “serious risk” to residents were identified in the 2017-18 financial year, according to government data released to Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph.
The figures also show a 292 percent increase in the number of facilities that were falling significantly short of government regulations. The prime minister said the royal commission would be critical in guiding how Australia copes with caring for its growing elderly population. Demand for services is expected to surge as the “baby boomer” generation born after World War II swells the ranks of retirees.