Chemical and physical restraint in aged care homes will be better regulated, aged care minister Ken Wyatt announced on Thursday, the day before the official proceedings of the royal commission into aged care were set to begin.
Mr Wyatt said incidents of over use of physical and chemical restraint will not be tolerated under the changes to the regulations.
Stories of the pain and suffering of nursing home residents, fearful family members and disgruntled staff are continuing to surface as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety begins on Friday.
The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation says radical change is desperately needed, both to the aged care system’s rules and culture.
Federal Secretary Annie Butler said chronic understaffing and under regulation of the aged care system were the root causes of the horrific stories that have come to light and will continue to emerge as the royal commission continues.
The royal commission will investigate the quality of aged care provided in residential and home aged care to elderly Australians, but will also include young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.
Federal member for Ballarat Catherine King said while she welcomed the royal commission, the government could not wait for the royal commission to be finalised before it began to ‘fix’ the ‘crisis’.
“The quality standards and reporting system isn’t working. There aren’t enough aged care workers – and they aren’t given enough pay, respect or support,” she said
One Ballarat resident, who asked not to be named, said she was trying to keep her mother who needs a high level of care out of residential aged care as long as possible.
She said she has seen aged care facilities deteriorate while her brother who had multiple sclerosis lived in residential aged care from age 20 to 45.
“The only continuance of staff in the last five years of my brothers life was really the cooking staff. The staff were moved around to different facilities. There was no continuance of care,” she said.
“The staffing levels have dropped. We have noticed with mum being in quite often they are understaffed. I know they work a lot of extra hours. I see them running to get things done.
“Mum has specific high care needs. I am worried that if she goes in to residential she won’t get the care she needs.
“I am hoping it will change. I hope a lot of things don’t get swept under the rug and covered up. It is a relief to know it is finally being looked at.”