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Residents at serious risk - but no inspections.

Residents At Serious Risk - But No Inspections


Chris Evans - Shadow Minister for Family Services and the Aged


Media Statement - 15 February 2000


Today it has been revealed that the Minister for Aged Care, Bronwyn Bishop, has failed to protect the rights of frail older Australians by not ensuring that aged care providers are subjected to surprise inspections in response to complaints from residents.


"We know that there are more than twenty homes where residents and staff are at serious risk, yet not one of them has been subjected to a surprise visit," said Senator Chris Evans, Shadow Minister for Family Services and the Aged.


"I am very concerned about the lack of scrutiny on bad providers under the Government's aged care system."


The Standards and Accreditation Agency, which is responsible for conducting inspections, has confirmed that to date it has not conducted any surprise inspections, despite having identified serious risks to residents in many nursing homes.


"There have been over three thousand complaints from residents over the last two years, yet not one nursing home has been subjected to a surprise inspection," said Senator Chris Evans.


"The Minister is refusing to use her powers under the Aged Care Act to fully investigate problems in nursing homes.


"In the aged care sector it is widely known that providers are given days, even weeks, notice of a visit, which allows them to cover up any problems.


"Frail older Australians in care are in a vulnerable position. The Minister is responsible for ensuring that their rights are protected and that providers are delivering appropriate levels of care.


"While complaints have been increasing, sanctions against providers have drastically fallen. Less than one in a hundred complaints results in regulatory action against providers.


Last year, when questioned about the lack of surprise inspections the Minister for Aged Care claimed that "…where people are at a risk the unannounced visits are part of our policy."


"The Minister has mislead older Australians, by failing to deliver on her promise that poor providers will be subjected to unannounced visits.


"The lack of scrutiny on poor providers is yet more evidence of the failure of the Government's aged care reforms.


Authorised by Gary Gray, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.