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Is the concept of a caring corporation an oxymoron?

Ian Yates, former CEO of COTA SA, suggested recently that we need a levy, like the Medicare levy, to provide funding for Aged Care Home.

If all Aged Care Homes (ACHs) were under government management, his suggestion might have merit. It is, after all, an extension of the idea of providing funding for NDIS – which, as an aside, needs a complete overhaul!

It currently vies with private provision of Aged Care for levels of inefficiency, ignorance and outright cruelty

But examination of all the recent reports has left me with the impression that we have two classes of ACHs; those run by government and those run by corporate bodies.

The former class have strict regulations regarding staff/patient ratios, qualifications of staff, and, in consequence, a greater number of properly qualified, appropriately trained and better remunerated staff.

The latter class have far fewer regulations, far fewer regular checks that they meet requirements – and shareholders!

During the crisis in Melbourne, some residents in private ACHs have been left unfed, unwashed, un-cared for and bereft of human contact.

And they are still charged for no service!

Remember the banks and fees for no service?

My understanding is that all ACHs have actually received a funding boost from government in the past, but, in the case of the non-government ACHs, there has been no requirement that the funds must be employed for the benefit of residents, so shareholders have enjoyed a welcome increase in dividends.

In one sense, governments – particularly conservative ones – act like corporations, which might account for the fact that they are so lenient on misbehaviour exhibited by corporate bodies – and so slow to assess standards and demand improvements.

For generations, there have been criticisms of Public Servants as being inefficient and lazy. And most certainly, when you have an organisation where you are guaranteed a permanent job for life, with greater benefits, in terms of leave and superannuation, than are offered in the private sector, and reasonable prospects of regular promotion, there will be a minority who abuse their privileges.

But the Public Service no longer offers anything like the security which was once the case, and its employees are not driven by the need to make ever-increasing profits for shareholders – which is a two-edged sword.

In the private sector, increasing profits requires one or both of two things – cutting service costs or charging more from the client.

When the government mandates some aspects of the costs to the client of the service provided – which is, I believe, the case with ACHs – then the inevitable consequence is a reduction in the standard of service.

Staff are paid less, which makes employment unattractive to the better qualified staff, and/or fewer staff are employed and/or less is spent on ensuring that staff are properly qualified and equipped.

For years I have argued that privatisation of service provision ensures a lowering of standards of service and an increase in cost to the receiver of the service.

I am yet to be persuaded that I am wrong, and to that I would add my belief that the fact that shareholders’ needs are put ahead of all other demands on the corporation, no service which involves caring for vulnerable people should ever be in private hands!

The Indue Card, Robo-debt and NDIS spring instantly to mind, never mind Aged Care!

In the present instance, if any ACHs are to remain under the control of a corporate body, it should only be possible if that body has to meet the same standards as the government controlled institutions.

It is interesting that the white majority of Australians as a whole, tends to see itself as superior to our First Nations.

Yet their respect and care for their elders puts us to shame!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

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9 comments

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  1. Yes Minister

    I understood that Yates is still CEO, at least recent communications from him have suggested as much. Whatever, he is / was IMO a full-on establishment drone whose interests are purely establishment / big end of town. So called ‘nursing homes’ have never been about caring, with rare exceptions they are nothing more than devices to separate their ‘clients’ from whatever assets other individuals and entities have not already plundered. Of course the various Public / State Trustees figure heavily in the plundering game, although the links between these satanic scum and ‘nursing homes’ are extremely well developed. Pigs in the feeding trough are benevolent creatures by comparison with Trustees / ‘nursing homes’. Once the assets / money have been seized, the ‘clients’ / victims have no more value and they are marked for slaughter. Then comes the uber-despicable SCUMMO pleading concern. Surely nobody in their right mind believes this grub is even capable of human emotion (other perhaps than pure unbridled avarice). Mind you there is no reason to expect anything different from poorlene / shitten / albo / the wilted greens or any of the other rats & mice political turds. Maybe a few crocodile tears will be shed but when the sheeple lose interest it will be back to the serious business of bleeding the victims dry until they die.

  2. Win Jeavons

    That has been my considered opinion of privatisation for nearly 30 years. Our politician fell for a scam then and are stlll . Until we have removed private donations from the election process we will continue to fail as a democracy, and as a decent community.

  3. Jack Cade

    Win Jeavons

    At the core of my political beliefs is the conviction that no nation should allow its resources to be mined by foreigners or its infrastructure to be mined by profiteers. As things stand, Australians as a society own nothing. Even the jewel in its resources crown is actually Billiton these days, not BHP.

  4. Matters Not

    Re:

    criticisms of Public Servants as being inefficient

    And they are – when compared to the private sector. It’s also said that the public sector is too concerned with process which impacts on the delivery of outcomes, in particular the time taken when compared to the private sector. And that’s ‘true’ as well. But those admissions are in danger of being far too simplistic and need to be unpacked if one wants to understand the why.

    The public sector, because it is in receipt of public funds (almost exclusively) is (and must be) publicly accountable. It has to be able to show the when, how, and why of public expenditure (where the money went) – not only in the ‘now’ and the recent past but also in the distant past and for some unforeseen, unpredictable future. Thus detailed record keeping becomes necessary and it’s essential that such records be maintained (and even added to over time) because the past might need to be investigated even years down the proverbial track – particularly if there’s to be something like an ICAC which everyone seems to want. (Except politicians of course.)

    Hence there has to be an Audit trail. And therefore an internal Audit Office as well as external Auditors (often staffed by those who have little or no imagination and who definitely have no sense of humor.) And that dear reader is just one reason (there’s several others) why the public sector (by its very nature) must be slower (seen as less efficient) than the private sector and always will be. There’s no magic pudding.

  5. Matters Not

    Re:

    that body has to meet the same standards as the government controlled institutions

    Does that include being subject to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests? After all such institutions are in receipt of significant government funds. Surely citizens should have the right to find out how government funds are being spent? How much is allocated to building maintenance? Staff training? Or should citizens just be content with information revealed in Annual Reports? Where should the commercial-in-confidence line be drawn and who should decide?

    Moving away from the stress on the dollars and using educational institutions as a different type of an example. But first some context. Currently, public funds provided to so-called private schools covers the cost of teacher salaries. Surprising but true. (Fees charged to parents is just the cream on top. And in some instances that cream is rather thick.) So should the citizens be entitled to know information about things like student suspensions and exclusions from particular private schools which must be made available from their public school counterparts? You know – make ALL schools wash their dirty linen under the public gaze.

    Where do you draw the line? What about publicly funded Universities? Expense accounts of Vice Chancellors? Entertainment allowances? Just how transparent do we want things to be re same standards as the government controlled institutions?

  6. totaram

    MN: “What about publicly funded Universities? Expense accounts of Vice Chancellors? Entertainment allowances? Just how transparent do we want things to be re same standards as the government controlled institutions?”

    Yes! Hurrah! That will expose why the VCs of even our smallest Unis get paid more than the President of Harvard.

    Unfortunately, they will say that much of the funding comes from international students, so they can’t be as transparent as you desire. Just an excuse as usual.

  7. leefe

    Matters Not

    Surely it depends on how you define efficiency?
    It is simple logic that the same service can be produced at a lower ultimate cost if profit is not an aim. You have 100 units of funding, the public model can spend all those funds on the relevant service, the private model has to profit, so only 90 units will be spent on the service. If the same systems are in force in both, the public model gives a better result.

    As for the PS having to be able to explain exactly how public funds are spent – surely the exact same standard should be applied when those funds are spent by private entities? Why should not Murdoch have to show exactly how the recent millions he was given were used? Why should not Serco have to show exactly how every dollar they are given for running concentration camps for refugees is used? It is public money, its use should be scrutinised equally regardless of where and by whom it is spent.

  8. Ian Bell

    Telling us that tax payers must pay for aged care services that are Federaly Funded is an oximoron.

    Q,1 How many times over must a person born in the last century pay for their care in retirement ?

    Over the last century Australian’s taxes have been increaced substantialy 4 times on the giuse that the aditional taxes were to fund their pension in retirement.
    then we all paid a levy to cover our health care needs which included our needs as senior citizens, and each and every time, that pool of funds, was subsequently embezzelled by our government and diverted to alternative ends usualy to provide perks and rorts for politicions and senior public servents, then subsequently weve been told we need to pay again for our retirement and care needs,.
    The last time it was Keating who diverted / embezzelled our accumulated retirement savings, he then told us we must all save again via our our own superanuation. Its all based on a huge lie ,
    Our politicians are crooks, Trickstars and frauds. and this narrative nothing short of a confidence Scam.

    Q ,2 How long will it be before a Real Jounalist who understands a monicum of Ecconomic theory, Chalenges the openly falacious neoliberal narrative that Federal Government Expenditrure, whether it be on Aged Care, Health care, roads and infrastructure or , State funded Education is remotely dependent on Tax Revenue?

    Because It isnt, and a quicly growing portion of the public we know it isnt and that its a blatant political lie.

    If Our Soverign Federal Government is Creator our Austalian currency, it doesnt need to get it from tax payers, in order to spend it.
    Gov only collects taxes, in order to bind its citizens to the governments national initiatives and policies, ex: ie: to create and maintain public services and infratructure. via the creation distribution and removal of its currency maintain the currencies fluidity.

  9. Matters Not

    leefe re the simple logic to which you refer is somewhat like the common sense concept, which, when analysed, is often found to be not so common nor sensible. Yes there’s inputs and outputs (including possible profit) but what should be included in any study is the metaphorical black box processes – short hand for transfer, network or system function(s). It’s these different procedures (often mandated by law) that differentiate the ‘black box’ of the public sector from its private sector counterpart.

    If you Google Black Box organisational theory there will be many explanatory articles.

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