Aged care homes must do better

Two wrinkled hands clasped on a checkered blanket

*Opinion piece published in The Advocate on 23rd January 2023.

We’ve seen the horror stories. Meals you wouldn’t feed your dog. Tales of neglect and abuse.

Since the Royal Commission into Aged Care report two years ago, there’s been some changes to make things better in aged care.  But it hasn’t been enough.

Last week, Philip Goold spoke out about conditions at Yarandoo.  It was the latest in a string of stories about bad conditions across the state. 

My heart broke reading Philip’s story. It’s the same story I’ve been hearing for the past few weeks. My office has been flooded with phone calls. People in tears who are worried for themselves or concerned for their loved ones. I’ve seen photos of mouldy food on the table.

And it’s not just people in aged care facilities. Residents of retirement villages are reaching out to me. Worried they’re about to be homeless because their maintenance fees are going through the roof. These fees cover upkeep on their gardens and fixing things inside their homes. 

It’s physical stuff that residents just aren’t able to do for themselves anymore. They need these services.But if they can’t pay up and have to move out, where do they go?

These stories are too often and too many. 

We can’t wave a magic wand and fix everything in aged care overnight. I wish we could. I’d do it in a heartbeat.

What I can do is use my voice to call out areas that need change, and fight for residents to be heard. 

One thing we can change in Tassie right now is laws around retirement villages. At the moment, providers can raise fees as much as they like without any consequences. 

Other states have laws against this. They have caps on how much fees can rise. So why don’t we? It’s not a big ask for the State Government to bring Tasmania in line with the rest of the country. 

I know that the Tasmanian Association for Residents of Retirement Villages (TARRV) are working hard on this one, and I urge the State Government to listen to them. Changes to this act should occur as soon as possible.

The residents of these villages have worked hard all their lives. 

Please don’t let them down now.