No fanfare heralded the Hon Richard Tracey and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO at the first hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in Adelaide this January, but the momentous nature of the undertaking was never in doubt.
Commissioner Tracey called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to create a system of care “that better aligns with the expectations of the Australian people”.
Public concern about the sector had mounted since the exposure of sub-standard care at the government-run Oakden aged care facility in Adelaide in 2016 and 2017. Damning official reports followed, and Oakden was shut down, but a succession of other worrying cases came to light in facilities across the nation.
While the banking Royal Commission has already cut a swathe through that sector, now the $17 billion aged care sector, which provides residential care for some 200,000 elderly Australians, has been put on notice.
“Every aged care provider in the country is very aware of the challenges they are going to face over the coming time and what the Royal Commission is likely to bring,” says Pat Sparrow GAICD, CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA). ACSA, along with fellow peak provider bodies Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and the Aged Care Guild, welcomes the examination of quality and safety.
For the Royal Commission, time is of the essence; the interim report is due 31 October 2019 and the final one by 30 April, 2020. LASA CEO Sean Rooney says the Commissioners’ opening remarks made it clear they expect the utmost cooperation. “If it’s not the case, then that would draw attention to those providers that did not provide information required and also their practices.”
AGED CARE TIMELINE
- 16 September, 2018: Royal Commission announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison
- 17 December, 2018: Written submissions invited from aged care providers
- 24 December, 2018: Submissions from individuals and institutions invited
- 7 January, 2018: 100 largest providers’ submissions due 18 January, 2019: Hearings commenced in Adelaide
- 8 February, 2019: Submissions from other providers due 11 February, 2019: Witness evidence begins
- 31 October, 2019: Interim report due
- 30 April, 2020: Final report due.
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