Aged care providers rebel against changes
NURSING homes are fighting a government crackdown on abuse, complaining it will create too much paperwork to report every assault.
Aged-care provider Anglicare has warned that society must "tolerate some failure'' in the care of vulnerable seniors.
It says too much regulation can ruin residents' lives and force carers to tie people down to prevent falls.
"When blunt, top-down regulatory approaches are used to reduce the number of falls, more people are restrained,'' Anglicare has told a federal parliamentary inquiry into aged care abuse.
"When they are used to prevent choking, more people are forced on to modified texture diets."
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt is considering making aged-care homes report all "serious incidents'' - including assaults, cruelty, unexplained serious injury and neglect - to a new agency that would follow up on investigations.
But HammondCare - a Christian charity that made a $10 million surplus last year - claims the mandatory reporting would "generate additional paper trails that would divert staff away from routine care".
Nursing homes notified police and the federal Health Department of 2853 alleged assaults, including 348 suspected sexual assaults, against elderly residents last year.
Nursing homes have to report assaults within 24 hours unless the perpetrator is a resident with "mental impairments'' such as dementia.
Mandatory reporting of all abuse was recommended in the Federal Government's recent review of aged-care regulation, and by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
UnitingCare, which runs Blue Care nursing homes, told the inquiry it is "deeply concerned'' by plans to publish data on deaths, falls or assaults, saying it has "the potential to discourage openness around adverse incidents".
"Duty of care can become such a heavy hand that failure or mistreatment is hidden and complaints or concerns are then rejected or brushed off,'' it told the inquiry.