An ANMF member with more than 25 years of experience in the aged care sector has urged the federal government to adopt the full recommendations of the Royal Commission’s final report, describing a newly announced funding commitment as “the band aid”.
In the wake of last week’s tabling of the report, Prime Minister Scott Morrison acknowledged the shortcomings in the sector, saying it was “the Inquiry we needed to have”, with the government committing $452 million in funds to address issues in the sector.
However, according to ANMF Victoria Branch member Rebecca Woodfield, a residential facility manager who has also worked as both a Personal Care Assistant (PCA) and Registered Nurse (RN) across her two-decade plus career in Aged Care, the money needs to be backed by the adoption of the full recommendations of the report.
“I’m honestly surprised that money was one of the first things that was said… Something more concrete would’ve been better,” Rebecca said, adding that the Royal Commission’s recommendations were a “great first step.”
“They need to listen and critically go through each of those recommendations, because the recommendations wouldn’t be there if this industry was working as it should and providing everything that it could.
“It [money] is only part of the problem, and will only be part of the solution.”
Rebecca was filled with mixed emotions upon hearing of the report’s final release describing both “frustration” at another report which confirms what those on the ground have known for years and decades, along with gratitude that the issues raised in the Royal Commission have reached broader media and public scrutiny.
“This is what we expected, we all knew it,” she said.
“There’s a bit of frustration on the fact that it’s taken two years to bring out something we’ve already known and those that have died in our homes or left the industry through no longer wanting to work in it… we might’ve been able to keep them; things might’ve been better for them if we had just started on what we knew already.”
Nevertheless, Rebecca acknowledges that despite the protracted process, there is a greater public appetite for discussing the issues that the report raises openly.
“I am so happy that it’s come out in the media; I am so happy that people are now focusing on how we treat and perceive our elderly, and how we give them care. I am all for it,” she said.
“As individuals [and aged care managers] we’ve been fighting this broken system: Fighting for our residents, fighting for our staff, and this royal commission has given that a united voice… and it’s louder because we’re all saying it together.”
In response to last week’s final report and the Prime Minister’s, the ANMF’s Federal Office released a statement calling for the federal government to “urgently respond” to report’s call for safe staffing ratios, and urging that any new funding be “directly tied to the provision of care.”
The Aged Care Royal Commission’s summary of its findings, its list of recommendations, as well as the full five volume report, can be found on its official website.