Government announces aged care Royal Commission

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Prime minister Scott Morrison has announced a Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector.

The announcement follows recent revelations of abuse of senior Australians in aged care facilities, including at the Oakden facility in South Australia and the videotaped physical abuse of a resident at a Bupa aged care facility in the Sydney suburb of Seaforth. 

Mr Morrison said the Royal Commission, which follows government reviews and a Senate Inquiry initiated following the Oakden scandal, will look at the quality of care provided in residential and home aged care to senior Australians.

He said it will consider young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.

"We are committed to providing older Australians with access to care that supports their dignity and recognises the contribution that they have made to society," said Mr Morrison.

"Our aged care sector in Australia provides some of the best care in the world.  And we are looked to as a leader in the field. Aged care services and training has become an important service export industry for Australia.

"There are thousands of extraordinary operators, facilities, care providers, nursing and other clinical staff, volunteers, cleaners, cooks, therapists out there improving the lives of senior Australians every day. They do it for love and out of a deep professional commitment.

"But the best teams will always want to do better, and will always want to be honest about the performance of the sector as a whole. If you care about aged care, which those who work in the sector do, you will want it to be at its very best."

Mr Morrison said that, as a result of audit work commissioned by the federal government, the Department of Health has closed almost one aged care service per month since Oakden. An increasing number are also under sanction to improve their care.

"Putting in place clear requirements for better standards and providing the resources and powers to police those standards will always shine a light on the problems that exist. That is the whole point. These findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the measures we have been taking," he said.

"However, incidences of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused. We must be assured about how widespread these cases are.  I also want to be assured about the care provided to younger Australians living in the residential aged care facilities."

In a statement, Bupa said it supported the Royal Commission.

"This will give residents, their families and the workforce a greater voice in shaping aged care for the better given the rapid change in the sector and society', said Jan Adams, managing director of Bupa Villages and Aged Care.

"Alongside the quality of care, the scope of the Royal Commission needs to focus on supporting and growing the aged care workforce, and meeting the funding needs of the sector.

"Such a Commission will help Australia manage the changing health and care needs of an ageing population."