A Royal Commission is only as valuable as the reform it materialises.
And lobby group Aged Care Reform Now has formed to ensure that the Federal Government sticks to its word on implementing the myriad reforms necessitated within the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
“Someone has to become accountable, and things just have to change,” Amina Schipp, a committee member from Perth, says.
Schipp tells Aged Care News that she is doing everything in her power to hold the Government to account; in fact, she retired from her retail-banking career of 33 years this month in order to pursue justice full-time.
Her fervent campaign is on behalf of her beloved mother, Maria Oliveri Del Castillo, who tragically passed away in 2019 after suffering multiple instances of negligence in residential aged care and hospital facilities.
“I want to do this to help others avoid what I’ve been through and hopefully bring in some of the much-needed changes that the Government has promised but is yet to deliver,” she tells Aged Care News.
“I never realised how bad things really were until I witnessed them for myself … if you walk into an aged care facility, it’s like a third-world country lifestyle.
“There was a time when Mum said she’d rather be under a bridge… it just breaks your heart.”
The group comprises a variety of stakeholders, including healthcare workers, lawyers and families of aged care residents across the country.
The group is currently campaigning for three main priorities:
- An augmented workforce – with more workers and appropriate ratios.
- A rewriting of the Aged Care Act, emphasising the human rights and agency of older Australians.
- Enforceability and accountability of the Act – an end to the complicated bureaucracy and an improved complaints process.
“We go and meet politicians in person, we ask questions, demand answers and try to keep the pressure on,” Schipp says.
And it is much needed pressure, with the Government already well behind on one of the cornerstone promises of its five-year roadmap, a Council of Elders, scheduled for assembly back in July, but currently nowhere to be seen.
“We want to know that members of the public, or residential aged care residents are on it, because only they can tell it as it is.”
For Schipp, justice is not revenge on any particular person or party: the problem is widespread and requiring of full systemic overhaul.
“There’s no point in blaming one employee because it’s the culture… it’s the hierarchy… it’s all about money,” she says.
Whilst seeking peace for the personal injustices experienced, Schipp also is driven by a sense of duty to wider society.
“It’s not about us as individuals anymore… it’s about society, about everyone,” she says.
“Let’s face it, we’re all ageing. We all live longer and we’ll all be in that situation at some stage”
“I’m so glad that I took the time out to do this, because it’s given me the strength to be able to speak up and make a wave or two.
“Unfortunately for them, Amina Schipp doesn’t go away.”
The group is currently encouraging members of the public to join in a letter writing campaign to local MPs.
Aged Care News has contacted the department of health for comment.