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.”
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