THE quality of aged care in Australia has come under the microscope following failures within the industry in South Australia.
Closer to home, the NewsMail has reported on claims of neglect as a national push for better standards of care is made.
Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt this week announced an independent review to find out why aged care quality regulators failed to identify the extent of mistreatment of residents at the South Australian Oakden Older Persons Mental Health Service.
Mr Wyatt said he was "shocked and concerned" to hear of the incidents, including sexual assault and alleged overdosing, which have prompted plans to close the facility.
"The health, safety and well-being of older people who reside in aged care services are of paramount importance to the Australian Government," Mr Wyatt said.
"I want to get to the bottom of any shortcomings in the national regulatory system that meant that the Commonwealth was not aware of the extent of the problems with the quality of care at this facility earlier.
"This will include looking at the role of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, and of the Department of Health," Mr Wyatt said.
The commission was welcomed by Bundaberg aged care advocate Heather Mansell Brown, who came forward with her claims about the treatment of her husband Bill at TriCare in Bundaberg, but she said it was more important than ever to keep pressure on politicians.
She has been inundated with harrowing stories from across the country since creating a petition calling for mandated staff ratios in aged care, which has garnered more than 35,000 signatures in two months.
"Bill's experience was an eye opener, and some of the stories I have since heard are absolutely appalling," Ms Mansell Brown said.
Advocate meets with minister
AGED care advocate Heather Mansell Brown met with aged care minister Ken Wyatt last week and said the experience left her cold.
After husband Bill encountered numerous problems as a resident at Bundaberg aged care home TriCare, she has found herself on a campaign pushing for better standards.
Leaving the meeting, "I did not feel confident (in Mr Wyatt's abilities) at all," Ms Mansell Brown said.
"I told him the accreditation system is not working and the (Aged Care) Complaints Commission is a complete waste of time - they do not follow up with complaints.
"His mouth dropped open."
She provided him with a folder of about 60 stories provided to her confidentially by others who came forward with their own experiences after Ms Mansell Brown went public with hers in the NewsMail in February.
But she felt he "wasn't interested" in reading some of the comments from the 35,000 signatories of her online petition pushing for mandatory minimum staff ratios in aged care facilities.
"I walked out thinking, 'What was all that about?'
"I just don't trust the politicians, I can't."
The groundswell of media attention in recent months has encouraged people out of the woodwork, Ms Mansell Brown said.
"People are telling their stories ... and I'm urging them to please come forward.
"There's an election coming up, that's why (politicians) need to be kept accountable. These things come and go; they quieten down. I'm going to make sure it doesn't."
Mandating staff ratios was a "simple solution", she said.
The NewsMail contacted Mr Wyatt's office for comment yesterday afternoon but did not receive a response by deadline.
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