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Would An Aged Care Commissioner Have Made The Difference

Grey Power’s stance is that the global Covid-19 pandemic, as it has impinged on New Zealand, has highlighted existing problems within the Aged Care Sector and we suggest that if the promise by the Labour Party to fund an Aged Care Commissioner had been honoured, some of these pre-existing pressure points may have already been resolved.

It is possible that if the current coalition government had agreed to fulfil the Labour Party’s election promise that expenditure on an Aged Care Commissioner would be included in its first budget, the underfunding/under-staffing issues which have led to the stress faced by a number of Aged Care Facilities during the Covid-19 crisis would not have occurred. This is because a Commissioner may well have pin-pointed short-comings in the Industry and advocated for them to be rectified before any crisis occurred. Instead a fragmented industry; a broken aged care model was hit by Covid-19 which has led to a number of investigations.

The Auditor-General is reviewing the Ministry of Health’s Personal Protective Equipment management; the Director General of Health has commissioned a review of the six residential care facilities with confirmed Covid-19 cases, DHBs are auditing rest homes for infection control procedures and processes and the Chief Ombudsman has also ordered urgent inspections of secure dementia units. It is interesting that in its ‘Case Study: aged care regulation’ paper the Productivity Commission, referring to multiple complaints mechanisms within a regime, state that a common contact point makes it easier to identify system-wide issues. Surely then it would be more efficient if an Aged Care Commissioner, with a complete overview of the whole sector, called in any required expertise, and led these reviews instead of what appears to be a piece-meal approach.

Covid-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable the older population can be – we need an Aged Care Commissioner whose only focus is older people.

Grey Power N.Z. Fed. Inc. Society

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