Barry O’Rourke: the problem the elderly are facing

FALLS, injuries and even death are the challenges Australia’s elderly are facing because of an underfunded aged care sector, according to Rockhampton MP Barry O’Rourke.

“What’s happening to our older people is disgusting,” Mr O’Rourke said.

He has travelled the state as part of the inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying committee — some submissions he’s heard he can’t forget.

“We’ve seen examples where 140 to 150 people in aged care only having one registered nurse at night,” he said.

“We’ve heard stories of people who press the buzzer and it taking 30-40 minutes for someone to get to them and in that time they’ve soiled themselves.

“What dignity is there when they’re treated like that?”

He said seniors were paying for the Federal Government’s “fake surplus”.

“The Federal Government needs to fund it properly,” he said.

“Our elderly people have done their time for our country and they deserve to be supported.

He wants to see a carer to patient ratio introduced to the sector to ensure seniors have appropriate access to care.

“Isn’t it amazing that we have ratios for our child centre but not for oldies,” he said.

Inquiry commissioners must report their findings to the Legislative Assembly before March 2020 but Mr O’Rourke hopes the bill will be debated before the end of the year to spark real change.

The waiting list for Home Care Packages was also a concern for Mr O’Rourke — he said it meant people in need would be left isolated waiting for help.

A total of 1209 people in the Fitzroy region are receiving home care packages but almost as many people are waiting.

Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians Senator Richard Colbeck refuted Mr O’Rourke’s claims.

“The Federal Government delivered record aged care funding of $20.5 billion in 2018-19 and annual funding will increase by around $1 billion every year for five years,” Senator Colbeck said.

“This is an increase from $13.3 billion under Labor.

“We are able to deliver this record funding because of our strong budget management.”

He said hearing elderly people were mistreated was extremely distressing and was the reason why the Aged Care Royal Commission was called for.

“The independent Royal Commission is currently examining issues in the aged care sector, including workforce matters, and its findings may include workforce considerations,” he said.

Senator Colbeck said fixing the aged care sector was a complex issue, which wouldn’t be solved by introducing staff ratios.

“It is important to recognise that when it comes to staffing in aged care, it is not one size fits all,” he said.