The Greens have written to the Prime Minister requesting that he urgently update the terms of reference for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to examine the impact of profit-making corporations on the provision and quality of aged care services.
The Greens say it is a scandal that private aged care providers are making mega-profits while failing to protect their residents from the coronavirus with the sector raking in $1.7 billion in profit in the 2018-19 financial year, at the same time as many not-for-profit providers are struggling with chronic underfunding.
A survey by accounting firm StewartBrown found that in March 2020 almost two thirds of aged care providers were operating at a loss, more than at the same time the previous year and part of a continuing trend where financial viability is bringing about pressure on quality of care and the viability of services. The situation is even more challenging in rural and remote areas, leaving these older Australians particularly vulnerable.
The Greens are also calling for the inclusion in the October Budget of an urgent $3 billion investment in aged care to increase hours of care, increase the staff to resident ratios and ensure a minimum of at least one registered nurse is rostered on 24/7 in each facility.
Quotes attributable to Greens Leader, Adam Bandt:
"It is time to rethink the privatisation of aged care.”
“Privatisation and deregulation, driven by thirty years of neoliberal ideology, have produced a perfect storm of a casualised workforce and substandard service, and it is causing heartache for residents and their families."
"Big corporations are profiting from the misery of their residents and the failure to protect their workforce. Worse, the public is subsidising these big corporations’ mega-profits while standards of care keep slipping."
“The Prime Minister must act. After the problems in NSW early in the Covid crisis and now in Victoria, the government is on notice that privatisation is failing older people and residents in aged care facilities across the country are particularly vulnerable,” Bandt said.
Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson on Aged Care, Senator Rachel Siewert:
“There must be an immediate injection of $3 billion dollars into aged care to ensure adequate nursing and staff to resident ratios ensuring proper levels of care for residents. The PM must also update the terms of reference of the Royal Commission to look at the impact of profit making corporations on this aged care scandal.”
“The next step is to implement recommendations designed to end clinical failures identified by many including a Senate inquiry in April 2019.”
“The government had plenty of time to act before Covid arrived to overwhelm a system that we already knew was failing our vulnerable older people and their families. Now they have no excuses.”
“It is an absolute scandal that while the taxpayer is propping up the giant profits of corporations, residents and workers are not being properly protected from the coronavirus,” Siewert said.