CARE CRISIS: Boyd Fraser wants legislative change to prevent aged care providers
CARE CRISIS: Boyd Fraser wants legislative change to prevent aged care providers "gaming the system". The Australian

Malcolm Fraser's cousin in call for aged care shake-up

"IF YOU have a road map that's in tatters, the regulatory regime is doomed - it's always been doomed."

Boyd Fraser is on a mission. The cousin of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser says he wants stricter rules to regulate aged care providers' responsibilities.

Aged care, he acknowledges, is not a sexy topic and is likely to be a world many sons and daughters may only enter once in their lifetime.

But in a situation where cuts to staff are running rampant, Mr Fraser says it's time for a hard look at legislation.

"Labour is the biggest cost, so of course the providers want to cut back on nurses," he said.

"The suggestion that nursing care is not going to suffer is just complete nonsense."

Mr Fraser, a former businessman based in Melbourne, started to question the aged care system when his mother Valerie needed to go into care.

Unhappy with the level of service at several facilities, he decided to bring her home.

"The residents suffer terribly in the most gross conditions," he said.

Dehydration, filth and a lack of mobility are affecting our elderly, according to Mr Fraser.

Providers such as Blue Care argue Federal Government reforms are partly to blame for staff cuts, an argument Mr Fraser says is "spin".

"There has been a reduction in indexation, that's true, but the money spent on aged care is continuing to grow so it's a very disingenuous argument," he said.

"Is the name of the game providing the best possible care to the residents or is the name of the game buying more facilities?

"They are doing very well financially and they are buying more additional facilities."

Profits and residents' well-being are at stark odds, he says. Generating profit can only come by cutting back on care.

"The one thing the sector doesn't want is prescription," Mr Fraser said.

He says while aged care is a market of sorts, a free market system doesn't work where lives and well-being are on the line.

"It's not a free market in the sense they're arguing," Mr Fraser says, adding that free markets are for shoes, clothes and cars, but not our loved ones.

He said with billions of dollars of federal funding and favourable tax conditions applying to many facilities, it was time to demand certain outcomes.

The most vital, he says, would be the adoption of a recommendation in a 2005 Senate report.

Part of Recommendation 14 asks that "that the Commonwealth, in consultation with industry stakeholders and consumers, review the Accreditation Standards to define in more precise terms each of the Expected Outcomes".

Residential aged care standards currently pertain to: management systems, staffing and organisational development, health and personal care, care recipient lifestyle and physical environment and safe systems.

Each point comes with a list of Expected Outcomes.

Those Expected Outcomes, according to Mr Fraser, leave space for "gaming the system".

"The rules now are so vague, you might as well say 'nursing home residents are to have a good time' and that's it," he said. "Unless a provider is bathing someone in kerosene or they're covered in faeces there's very little you can do because of those Expected Outcomes.

"Aged care providers are gaming the system at the cost of residents' health."

The answer, according to Mr Fraser?

"We need a road map, but we need a road map that's precise," he says.

"We must have robust regulations and certainly at the moment we don't have that."

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