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Government report on residents' rights a whitewash



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GOVERNMENT REPORT ON RESIDENTS’ RIGHTS A WHITEWASH

’The G overnm ent is still d e te rm in e d to go its own way on nursing hom es and h o ste ls for the

fra il aged, and has used a re p o r t on re s id e n t s ’ rights as a w h ite w a sh fo r its lack of real

c are and p ro p e r funding fo r the in d u s try ’, said Mr R ay B ra ith w a ite , Shadow M in iste r for

Community Services and Aged Care.

Mr B ra ith w a ite was com m enting on th e G o v ern m en t-co m m issio n ed re p o r t, ’R e s id e n ts ’ R ights in N ursing Homes and H o s te ls ’, p re p a re d by c o n su ltan t Chris R onalds follow ing h e r issues p ap er

’I’m Still An In d iv id u al’.

’This is a flaw ed docum ent’, said the Shadow M inister. ’It does n o t sp eak the t r u t h ’. It

s t a t e s th a t the outcome of c o n su lta tio n s confirm s b o th the principles and recom m endations

co n tain ed in ’I’m Still An In d iv id u al’.

’B u t’, said Mr B ra ith w a ite , ’while we all w a n t p ro p e r rig h ts fo r re s id e n ts in nursing homes

and hostels, the em phasis a t most o f the co n su lta tiv e sem inars was on who is to pay for the

im p lem en tatio n of the recom m endations, the d iffe re n c e b e t w e e n nursing homes and h o stels and on the rights of s t a f f and c a r e r s ’.

T h re e p rio rity a re a s are id e n tifie d in the r e p o rt as a focus fo r g o v e rn m e n t action: the

im p lem en tatio n of a C h a r te r of R e s id e n ts ’ R ig h ts, le g isla tio n to m ake funding d e p e n d e n t

upon a form al r e s id e n t - p r o v i d e r c o n tra c t, and significantly s tr e n g th e n in g the d e p a r tm e n ta l

com plaints mechanism.

This smacks of g radual socialisation of our nursing homes and h o ste ls, said Mr B ra ith w a ite .

In the name of individuality, it is in fa c t re g u la tio n and control. The G o v ern m en t is

insisting on th e se p rio ritie s, b u t it is co n veniently overlooking th e m ajor n eed s of the

industry:

- the n eed to ensure the re c ru itm e n t of the p ro p e r s t a f f to give q u a lity of c are to

residents; - the n e e d to improve s t a f f morale;

- the n e e d to ensure the rig h ts o f s t a f f in r e la tio n to th e ir p ro fe s s io n a l duty;

- the n eed fo r flex ib ility of funding to m a in ta in the d e g re e o f c are and q u a lity of care

th a t ex isted in the past;

- the n eed to tackle the increasing problem o f d e m e n tia in ou r society.

’In releasing- this re p o rt, it a p p e a rs t h a t the M inister responsible fo r A ged C are, Mr P e t e r

S taples, has ta k en no notice w h a ts o e v e r of the responses and criticism s m ade rig h t across

the industry by those who work in it, those who care for our fra il a g e d ’, said Mr

B ra ith w a ite .

’But this does not surprise me. I h av e had no co o p e ra tio n from the M in is te r’s office as to

the n a tu re of the r e p o rt or the venue fo r the launching of it. I was a v a ila b le to a t te n d

th e launch, but rece iv ed no in v ita tio n . T h e re is no c o o p e ra tio n b e t w e e n this M in iste r and

the Opposition.

And it ap pears th a t th e re is no co o p e ra tio n from this M in iste r w ith the p ro v id e rs o f care

to our elderly. This re p o rt d e s tro y s the tr u s t th a t e x ists w ith in most nursing homes and

h o ste ls b e tw e e n re sid e n t, care r, s t a f f and family, and will m ean a d re a m for la w y ers in a

n ig h tm are of litig a tio n . The old A u stra lia n ’handshake o f t r u s t ’ is now dead. It has been

replaced by g r e a t e r bureaucracy and in te r v e n tio n - and our fra il aged a re paying the price.

CANBERRA, 4 July 1989 Tel: (079) 576422 (062) 774218