17 September 2018
Aged care royal commission welcome but government could act now on management accountability
Elder Care Watch calls on the government to act now to make senior managers in aged care personally accountable for failures in care standards.
Royal commissions are powerful but they take time. In the meantime the government could take direct action via legislation to make senior managers personally accountable when care standards are not met.
Certainly, the mere prospect of an aged care royal commission will help change the behaviour of managers who have allowed abuse to prevail. The commission process will also allow both loved ones of residents and staff to tell their stories. Further, it should call managers to account in the same way the financial services royal commission is doing.
The SA Coroner got to the heart of the matter in his May 2018 inquest finding into the death of a resident at St Basil’s Aegean Village in Adelaide. The Coroner found* it entirely inadequate that those managing the nursing home at the highest level should escape any sanction. In a referral to the Minister for Aged Care, the Coroner said that senior managers and boards of management should be held personally accountable when standards of care are not met. He said some personal risk to senior managers was needed for there to be public confidence in the system.
The Prime Minister talked about sanctions, claiming they are on the rise. Typically they are relatively mild. They include short-term bans on new resident subsidies and the hiring of advisers at a home’s expense to tell managers how to do their job properly. Sanctions need to be something which managers and owners fear, not a slap on the wrist and advice on how to improve. The government could take a leaf from its own reform book on financial services law and introduce substantial financial penalties for senior managers and boards of management in aged care.
Contact Carol Williams 0407 515 636
* SA Coroner Finding of inquest, 59/2016 (0853/2012), 17 May 2018, paras. 11.2 and 11.4