Redress should be available to older people who have experienced abuse and neglect in the aged care system, a conference has heard.

Kate Swaffer

It was disappointing that the aged care royal commission did not contain any recommendations about compensation for those who have suffered abuse and neglect, a dementia advocate told a conference themed Governance in Aged Care: Beyond the Royal Commission.

During a consumer voices panel session, dementia advocate Kate Swaffer, who was diagnosed with younger onset dementia at 49 and co-founded Dementia Alliance International, said people with dementia wanted more than just ‘having a voice’ or an ‘aspiration of autonomy’.

“The thing that I see is seriously missing in the Royal Commission is any recommendation for redress,” she told the online forum hosted by ACSA and COTA on April 14-15.

“There’s been nothing about redress for the abuse and neglect in aged care and is that due to ageist attitudes towards older people or people with dementia?

“The lack of redress in this report for past and current abuse and neglect has far reaching consequences.”

Perpetrators should also face criminal charges, she said.

Enshrining rights in legislation

Older Person’s Advocacy Network CEO Craig Gear said OPAN has been hearing the views of its older persons reference group.

Craig Gear

 “There’s absolutely a priority on home care but we have to get it right,” Mr Gear said.

“But we have to do it safely and make there’s the quality systems and safety systems around that. And at the same time self management has to be recognised.”

Another top concern was enshrining aged care rights in legislation.

“There’s absolutely no point in us talking about the rights of older people if we don’t have a charter of rights in a new aged care act,” Mr Gear said.

He said feedback from the reference group also suggested older people were in favour of recommendations made by the royal commission for establishment of a Council of Elders and an Inspector-General of Aged Care.

Kaele Stokes

 Kaele Stokes, executive director of advocacy and research at Dementia Australia, from Dementia Australia said a stronger system of dementia education for providers was essential, especially in home care, for everyone from frontline staff to board level.

“We need to make sure that education is not only lifted at a foundational level but that we also have capacity building mechanisms to ensure the sector is able to build their capacity as well.

“Dementia is not a competitive edge any more but a core business,” she said.

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