SENTINEL-TIMES COMMENT

“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.”

Local aged care campaigner Jane Seaholme of Wonthaggi wrote that in her submission to the Aged Care Royal Commission in April 2019.

Her petition on change.org: “Mandate skilled aged care staff to resident ratios. Stop the neglect” has since gone viral attracting 361,000 signatures.

She launched the petition and made her submission well before a shortage of qualified staff and proper infection control training and procedures led to the deaths of almost 800 aged care residents in Melbourne, during the Victorian COVID-19 crisis midyear last year.

It was an “utterly predictable outcome” according to Jane and the likes of Professor Joseph Ibrahim, head of the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University.

But the fact is, older Australians have been dying quietly in aged care due to lack of infection control for decades and no one has lifted a finger.

After the release of the Aged Care Royal Commission’s final report yesterday, there can be no further excuses.

But it will cost us the taxpayer, and the families of those who have a loved one going into aged care.

All the more reason why everyone of us should be setting money aside for such an eventuality.

Locally, at the 2016 Census, more than 50 per cent of the population of Bass Coast was listed as over the age of 50, well in excess of the national average.

And we are seriously under-resourced and underfunded, lacking in the first instance of 300 needed ‘high care’ beds.

But we’re not on our own. The sector across Australia has been neglected for years in the face of an expanding demographic.

What with the other things that have been going on in Canberra and in Spring Street lately, it doesn’t give you a lot of confidence in our political leaders.

This now is their greatest test, and the vast majority of older Australians living at home should not be forgotten either.