A message from our CEO regarding the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

On 16 September Prime Minister Morrison announced an Aged Care Royal Commission. On 17 September, CEO David Cochran wrote to residents and families to inform them and offer support throughout the process. Many thanks to everyone who has responded by expressing their support for Harbison.

On 25 September public submissions on the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission, which define the scope of enquiry, closed. We expect things to move quickly from here, if the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is any guide.

The Royal Commission is expected to be a future looking enquiry by the executive arm of government, and there has been suggestion that it will also include a focus on elder abuse, Australians with disabilities (particularly younger people), dementia sufferers and challenges posed by rural and remote areas.

Harbison welcomes the Royal Commission as an opportunity for a national conversation about the future of aged care. Australia already leads the world in health and aged care. Australia is currently ranked 2nd, just behind the UK and ahead of the Netherlands, but if you adjusted for rural and remote areas we would probably be ranked 1st. This achievement is despite spending less as a portion of GDP than most other major economies.

The quality and quantity of care over the last ten years has also improved by every measure. In response to Oakden in 2017, which was a government-run mental health aged care facility in South Australia, the government reviewed the regulation of quality in the sector and implemented the recommendation to create new national standards and a single regulatory body for aged care from July 2019.

Harbison is continuously working to improve quality. Earlier this year we received a Better Practice Award from the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency. We are about to start a new training program in partnership with the University of Western Sydney College that will offer our care staff the opportunity to upskill without cost. We are half way through the first year of our Butterfly dementia training program at Moss Vale, and our new Burradoo dementia cottages will open this time next year and provide our community with the most advanced dementia care in regional NSW, if not Australia.

The Royal Commission will be distressing for the community, residents, families and staff. Abuse of vulnerable people is unacceptable, and society must do everything within our power to prevent it. If you or your family have any concerns about the care you (or your loved one) is receiving, please contact a member of your care team.

If you prefer or feel more comfortable, you can directly contact the Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) for advice and support or contact the Australian Government’s Aged Care Complaints Commissioner:

Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) on 1800 700 600
Australian Government’s Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552

Harbison has helped the elderly for more than 60 years and we are committed to providing a safe, comfortable home and high-quality care for at least another 60. This is a team effort. We thank our residents, families and staff for their ongoing support.

David Cochran
October 2018