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Monday, January 17, 2022

Former NSW premier says Govt culture shift required to solve aged care crisis

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Aged care provider CEO Mike Baird has told Brisbane 4BC radio listeners that a month on from the Royal Commission, that a huge amount of interaction has been happening between providers, sector, industry and government are ongoing.

The former premier and now HammondCare head, told host Deborah Knight the current system is incredibly complex to navigate for clients.

“I think, as a country we are poorer for a position that we have got to, which I think, is where we don’t value our elderly,” he said. 

“That has manifested in a way in a system that is not providing the care that we need, and would rightfully expect for those we love. 

“This royal commission report does provide a roadmap, I think, towards significantly improving care and my hope is the government responds.

Baird said the Federal Government needs to undergo a “cultural shift”, and take a clear policy position which would “turn it on its head”.

“[It requires] that cultural shift of government, that says ‘yes, we’re going to provide what is needed, the cost of providing good care that enables people to live independently with dignity and respect – that’s what the government needs to deliver. Once they have that, the policies and funding can flow from there.

He said aged care should be akin to Medicare and the coverage provided by that national health system.

“Just think of the Medicare system – at the moment, when … any Australian turns up to a hospital, or in need of health care, they receive what they need.

“But if you turn up to the aged care system, that’s not necessarily the case.”

Baird’s previous difficulty navigating care provision for his own mother left a major, less-than-favourable impression on him.

“The emotional challenge you have when there’s someone you love that you’re sort of handing in to the system, there’s this deep sort of sadness and emotional turmoil that comes, and whilst you’re going through that to then try and navigate the system is incredibly difficult.

“What providers are good? What sort of care do they provide? What sort of care does your loved one need? We really need to get to a position where we make it easier, where there’s accountability amongst providers.” 

Baird said Government has a major role to play on getting aged care on track, and that both sides of politics are equally to blame for the state of the system.

“My sense of despair in this is that when governments have been considering over the last 20 years, what money they’ve needed to put into aged care, the royal commission said it felt like the government’s main consideration was what was the minimum commitment was that it could get away with, rather than what should be done. 

“That is such an indictment , not just on the government but on all of us.”

Any moves to improve the sector must start with the many employees in the sector, clearly underpaid for what they do.

“Yes we’re seeing issues of neglect, but there’s a huge number of workers who are doing, day-in, day-out, unbelievabvle work, they’re not being paid what they’re worth,” he said.

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