Pensioners are going without access to aged care services
TWEED pensioners are being forced to wait up to 12 months to access necessary in-home aged care services, leaving their families and nurses scrambling to look after them.
The aged care sector was pushed into the spotlight this week when Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a Royal Commission into aged care practices, which will focus on residential and in-home aged care for seniors and young people with disabilities who live in aged care homes.
Since the announcement, stories of neglect, lack of qualified staff in aged care facilities and limiting resources have come to light following an extensive report by ABC Four Corners.
In the Tweed, Census data in 2016 revealed people aged 65 years and over made up 25.3 per cent of the Tweed Shire population, with many accessing in-home aged care services.
Cabarita resident Barbara Minto, 81, is one of the many people battling to receive much-needed care that would allow her to stay in her home.
Babara's daughter Debra Minto said the government had approved level four assistance, which assisted those with high-care level needs and provided house keeping, social support and physiotherapy, but it's at least a 12-month wait before she could access those services.
"You talk to aged care to see how long you have to wait but there's no end date, they said it could take 12 months or more," Ms Minto said.
"If you approve the service then you should be able to provide it.
"I'm supplementing those services at the moment but what if I go back to full time work, I won't be able to manage helping her - what happens then?
"Why should she have to move if she's still capable of living at home?"
Royal Commission into Aged Care
Richmond MP Justine Elliot said more needed to be done to ensure the elderly were getting the appropriate care they deserved.
"There are currently 108,000 people on the home care package waiting list, including 88,000 people with high needs - many living with dementia," Mrs Elliot said.
"We should judge ourselves as a nation by how we treat our elderly."
While Labor has welcomed the Commission, Mrs Elliot blamed the government's cuts to aged care in recent budgets for causing the sector to come under pressure.
Nurses call for more support in aged care sector
Nurses around the country have also been calling for proper staffing ratios within nursing homes, after the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association launched a campaign earlier this year to call on the government to create mandatory nurse to patient ratios.
The association's general secretary Brett Holmes said the aged care sector couldn't improve unless the number of nurses employed increased.
"The only way we're going to see an improvement in the quality of care in our aged care facilities is to mandate staff to resident ratios," Mr Holmes said.
"There is simply not enough staff to do the job that's required of them.
"We also need to make sure the skill of staff is properly balanced with enough registered nurses, enrolled nurses and carers to deliver the standard of care residents deserve."