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Monday, 20 August 2001
Page: 29710


Mr BEAZLEY (3:00 PM) —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, given your claim that enough federal money is being spent on health and aged care, are you aware of the Herald Sun report today that confirms that your own Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency rated 11 nursing homes in Victoria as critical and a further 35 as unacceptable? Are you also aware that the report states that 2,000 frail, elderly Victorians in nursing homes are receiving substandard care, including residents being left in urine-soaked sheets or being inappropriately restrained, wounds that are not being treated properly, unqualified staff wrongly administering medication—


Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition will come to his question.


Mr BEAZLEY —and inadequate infection control, putting residents at serious risk? Prime Minister, what positive solution will you be proposing, to address the shocking state of some of our nursing homes and their disgraceful treatment of our elderly Australians?


Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Minister for Aged Care) —I read the article—



Mr SPEAKER —I warn the member for Bruce!


Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP —I read the article by Mr Keith Moore in the Herald Sun this morning, and I saw an article which showed that the information in that article had been obtained from the information that we put on the public record. Furthermore, both the agency and the department have had very solid discussions with Mr Moore, and he had, I believe, presented a very balanced article. The point, if I can make it, is this: we lifted the carpet on what was left behind by the Labor Party after 13 years in government. We have put in place a reform package that means that now all homes have to meet higher standards than were ever envisaged by the Labor Party, which itself commissioned no less than two reports on aged care which it never, ever responded to.

I would point out that those reports referred to in that newspaper article are indeed ones which are valid at the time they are put onto the Internet; but, so that people can be reassured, I can say that all of the 11 homes that were noted in that article as having a critical rating no longer have a critical rating. In the case of Anzac and RSL Park homes, an administrator has been appointed and each of those is no longer critical. In the case of Isomer, it has had its site audit and, for reaccreditation, is no longer critical. Good Shepherd at Maryville now has two years accreditation and is no longer critical. Gualtiero Vaccari, two homes, received one year originally and has a reaudit scheduled for 8 October, is progressing well and is no longer critical. Lewis Court has a reaccreditation site audit for 2 and 3 October and is no longer critical. Radford has a reaccreditation site audit for 9 and 10 October, is progressing well and is no longer critical. St Francis of Assisi, two homes, has a reaccreditation audit for October and is no longer critical. Melton, where an adviser has been appointed, is no longer critical and is seeking reconsideration for accreditation.

The point I am making is that this is a system that is working. We are dealing here with human beings, who will sometimes fall below the standards. Those homes represent about four to five per cent of all homes in Victoria, which means that 95 to 96 per cent of all homes are meeting the standards. I think that the Labor Party's attempts to play politics with older Australians, their welfare and their quality of life are indeed not fair to the people who are giving good care and giving good outcomes for the quality of life of frail, older Australians who need that care. Indeed, the Labor Party's cynicism, given their failure to act in 13 years despite the fact that they had audit reports, is testimony to the fact that they would rather play politics with older people's lives than actually do anything about the matter. This system is working and it is working well. We will always have some homes that will fall below the standard, but it is important that we come to know about them so that something can be done about it. I might add that I understand that the member for Hotham was conducting over the weekend a call-in system about aged care homes in Adelaide. It was advertised there. The state manager of the Department of Health and Aged Care has written to Mr Crean and stated that, if any information came forward that would show that there is any substandard care for any individuals, he must let the department know immediately so that something can be done about it, and that we are not playing politics with it.