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Out with the old: Royal Commission revelations

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The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which commenced in October 2018, has released its initial findings in an interim report. Unfortunately, the diagnosis at this half-way point paints a rather grim picture of a growing industry that’s imperative to our society.

The interim report tells the shocking tale of the poor state of care being offered to our vulnerable citizens in the aged care system.

While there is much work to be done, I maintain an optimistic outlook for our future care as we all inevitably age, thanks to the incredible work and innovation I’m seeing first-hand in this sector.

The interim report can be found here.


Royal Commission Interim Report

To summarise some of the highlights of a 700-page document, the interim report identifies three key areas where there is a need for urgent action:

  • more home-care packages to reduce the waiting list for high level care at home;
  • response to the significant “over-reliance” on chemical restraints; and
  • stop the flow of young people with disability going into aged-care homes.

I particularly resonate with the first of these points, as we work with clients in the delivery of in-home care services. These connections have highlighted the need for proper regulation of service providers in this space to ensure an appropriate standard of care by all. There are 120,000 people currently on the waiting list for home care, while at the same time nursing home occupancy rates are falling.

The report also identifies systemic problems in aged care, with a system that overall:

  • is designed around transactions, not relationships or care;
  • minimises the voices of people receiving care, as well as the voices of their loved ones;
  • is hard to navigate and does not provide information required for people to make informed choices about their care, or that of their loved ones;
  • relies on a regulatory model that does not provide transparency or an incentive to improve; and
  • has a workforce that is under pressure, under-appreciated and that lacks key skills.

Of course, this is a generalised and stark analysis of a system. The report does not go into the many exceptional individuals involved in this arena who care deeply, act passionately and who are actively developing solutions to address these issues.

But perhaps that’s a necessary approach – if nothing else to ensure the passionate actions of these individuals are not diluted or restricted by a cold or unfit corporate model for the delivery of care.

The year ahead

In the remaining year of the investigation, the Commission will further explore:

  • access and interface issues between aged care and health services (the My Aged Care website and a call centre have failed to provide adequate information to people about aged care and how to access it);
  • models for the delivery of aged care; and
  • how to identify and encourage innovation in aged care, including innovative models of care.

No doubt the final report will further pinpoint some drastic concerns and set the framework for an overhaul of our aged care system.

Inspiring innovation

It’s clear that the current system has fundamental flaws and must be overhauled. But, having worked alongside this industry for many years, I know there are pockets of change and positivity already happening without waiting for government regulation to dictate its necessity.

Opportunities and benefits are being created for healthcare providers and consumers through the development and use of artificial intelligence in health, aged care and biotechnology. For example, AI applications are being developed to detect falls in hospitals and residential aged care facilities, to determine pain using face recognition software as well as in predictive medicine.

Redchip is currently in the midst of a sponsorship and mentoring role with CareFactor, Australia’s first incubator for entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and startups developing new ideas for aged care service delivery. This timely initiative is connecting its cohort of businesses with resources and support to bring their industry improvements and innovations to commercial life.

It’s an inspiring community of leaders and thinkers that I think represents the hopes and views of many. It will be exciting to see what the future holds for all involved as government support catches up and the push for transformation of this industry continues. We look forward to continuing our work and involvement with both care providers and innovators in this sector.

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