By Michael Giles

Royal Commissioners, the Honourable Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO, have presented the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to the Governor-General, His Excellency, General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd)  today, Friday, February 26.

The Final Report is the culmination of 28 months of work, including 23 public hearings involving 641 witnesses. Over 10,500 public submissions were received.

One of those submissions was contributed by Wonthaggi’s Jane Seaholme, whose late mother Phyllis Seaholme was a resident of a local aged care facility.

Jane campaigned for a higher staff:resident ratio and also for better food standards, with meal times among the most eagerly awaited daily events for residents.

At the time she didn’t feel her concerns were properly addressed.

“The feedback I received when speaking out and my own experiences prompted me to start
campaigning for better care in aged care. In 2012, I started a Change.org petition calling for mandated aged care staff/resident ratios. It was linked to another petition calling for the same thing in 2017. Currently, those petitions have amassed a combined total of over 311,000 signatures and continue to gather support. This petition is a strong indication of what matters to community members,” Ms Seaholme said in her submission.

The submission now has over 365,000 signatures, see link: https://www.change.org/p/mandate-skilled-aged-care-staff-to-resident-ratios-stop-the-neglect

“One of the most significant factors in providing quality residential aged care is to ensure
that there is sufficient skilled staff on hand to provide that care.
Staffing skills and levels have declined significantly over the years and there are currently no
minimum requirements for nurse training or time available per resident per day,” said Jane.

Local aged care providers in South Gippsland and Bass Coast say the availability of beds and rooms here is heavily oversubscribed and there are concerns about what will happen in aged care if, as seems inevitable, staff:resident ratios are increased.

The Final Report, and the recommendations made in it, will be available to read https://agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au/ once the Report has been tabled in Parliament. Tabling is a matter for the Australian Government.

A spokesman for the Health Minister Greg Hunt said the report was likely to be tabled in Parliament next week, despite the fact that both Houses, the House of Representatives and the Senate, are not due to sit next until Monday, March 15.

A report can be “tabled” through the Senate in out-of-session times.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt issued the following statement:

“The Commissioners will deliver the report to the GG on Friday.

The Minister will only receive the report after that.

We expect it will be a substantial report, noting that there were more than 100 recommendations alone in the submissions by counsel assisting and we expect it will be over 1000 pages.

The Minister will review, and make an initial response by mid-next week.

As has already been foreshadowed, the substantive response to what will be a significant reform will be in the upcoming budget.”