Aged Care Royal Commission direction hearing

February 7, 2019

The direction hearing for the Aged Care Royal Commission was held in Adelaide on 18 January. The terms of reference were reiterated, including that it covers residential and community care contexts and highlighting a number of issues including:

  1. the interface between health, aged care and disability services in metropolitan, rural and regional areas
  2. young people with disabilities residing in aged care facilities
  3. delivering aged care services to people living with dementia.

The Royal Commission will not examine matters specifically examined in previous inquiries but will look at changes and developments that have followed previous inquiries and the extent of implementation of actions from previous inquiries including follow up on recommendations of the Report on the Inquiry into the Quality of Care in Residential Aged Care Facilities in Australia by the Federal Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport.

Counsel assisting noted that of provider responses received to date, most complaints related to residential care, with the major categories of incidents being: elder abuse; medication mismanagement; overuse of psychotropic medications; food safety; not responding in a timely manner to requests for assistance from residents; inadequate wound management leading to death; and record keeping and record management.

The Commission would like to hear from as many people as possible including consumers, carers, families and members of the aged care workforce and will hold a public hearing in each capital city and some regional areas across Australia. The first public hearings will be held in Adelaide in the week commencing 11 February.

The February hearings will focus on the aged care quality and safety regulatory and complaints system and how that system works in practice at a general level. It will also explore key current challenges faced by the aged care system and how the system was operated and monitored prior to 1 January 2019 and how it will be monitored and regulated in the future (including the progress and efficacy of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission).

Counsel assisting requested open engagement with the Commission and noted:

  1. contractual obligations or commercial provisions do not excuse any provider from their obligations to answer questions in hearing or provide information to the Royal Commission
  2. it is unlawful for an employer to take punitive action against an employee or former employee who assists the Royal Commission and providers should not discourage staff providing information or making a submission to the Commission.

For more information contact Emma Liepa or Ali Georgalas at the VHA on 9094 7777.