MOTIONS - Aged Care

MOTIONS - Aged Care Main Image

First of all, can I thank the member for Indi for bringing this motion to the House. It is very important. Whilst I think much has been said about the need for this motion, I'm a little alarmed still about some of the language that's coming from the coalition. I will remind the member for Grey: this is not a 'bandwagon', and, no, money is not the only answer. This is a fundamental lack of government that has occurred in Australia for the last eight or nine years, under this coalition government. The royal commission occurred, even though the government had to be dragged kicking and screaming to it—and that's because this government does not understand the importance of aged care and the problems in aged care.

I've had a lot to do with aged care over the years. In my earlier time as a young doctor, I spent some time working as a GP locum with Radio Doctor, and I was often called to aged-care facilities after hours to provide care. I had a lot of respect for my mother-in-law, Nea Chambers. After her career as the nursing manager at Camden Hospital, she then ran a number of nursing homes, including Kilbride Nursing Home and Camden Nursing Home, in Campbelltown and Camden respectively, run by Kennedy Health, now owned by a publicly listed company, Estia Health. She was very, very proud of her skills as a nurse and of the quality of care she provided in aged care. Just as an aside, my daughter Amelia has just had a baby, a little girl, and she has named her Nea after my highly respected mother-in-law, and I'm very proud of that.

Aged care has changed a lot in the last 20 years. With an ageing population, and a population that's living a lot longer, people are going into aged care later, they're staying for shorter times, and they have much more complex medical needs. I fully support the call to have registered nurses on duty 24 hours a day in aged-care facilities. It is very important because of the complex medical needs of the patients in aged care. As has already been mentioned, these can include multisystem disorders and the need for things like gastrostomy care, dementia care, seizure care and physiotherapy, the need for pain management, and the need for occupational therapy and rehabilitation. These complex needs in aged care have changed a lot over the years. It is very important that we meet those care needs for our most vulnerable patients, and I know that that depends on the standard of nursing care that is being offered and on the level of education of our aged-care providers.

I'm very pleased with the standards of aged care being provided in my electorate of Macarthur. I've been to most of the aged-care facilities. The registered nurses, the enrolled nurses and the aged-care staff are doing a fantastic job. I know that is not occurring in every aged-care facility around the country, and it's very important that those standards are maintained, whether you live in the inner city, metropolitan, outer metropolitan, rural or regional areas. This is something that this government has not understood and still does not understand.

In my electorate, unfortunately, we have still have many people in acute hospital beds who require aged care, either residential or in-home aged care, but because of the delays in accessing aged care they have to take up an acute hospital bed. That's not good for hospitals and it's not good, particularly in this time of COVID-19, for those patients. It is putting them at risk to keep them in an acute hospital setting where we are admitting patients with COVID-19. Our immunisation program in aged care has been lacking. The government seems to still have a very lackadaisical approach to this, in terms of both staff and residents. We've recently had a tragedy at Liverpool Hospital where a number of patients died after having caught COVID-19 in the hospital. Much more needs to be done. This is a government that does not appear to understand and a government that has failed to provide adequate aged-care support during its eight, going on nine, years of government. From the language I've heard from the coalition today, I'm not convinced that anything has changed.