The first week of hearings at the royal commission into aged care has heard of widespread issues across the sector, including overuse of psychotropic drugs, poor nutrition among residents and problems retaining nursing staff.
The commission sat for three days in Adelaide this week, taking evidence from a range of witnesses including the wife and son of a man who died after being mistreated and over-medicated at the infamous Oakden nursing.
It heard that drugs including antidepressants and sedatives are too often used as the first resort to treat dementia patients with about 80 per cent on at least one form of the medication.
Nursing industry representatives also told the inquiry that many nurses were leaving aged care because of the increasingly high workloads which were becoming unsafe and untenable.
Issues were also raised with the home care sector, with evidence from the Older Persons Advocacy Network that waiting times for care packages had blown out to as much as two years.
In his evidence on Monday, Clive Spriggs, whose father Bob was a resident at Oakden, called for a national register of aged care workers to prevent abusers from simply moving between homes or between states.
His mother Barb also called for a simpler way for people to raise problems with care after her concerns were repeatedly ignored.
The commission will sit for another five days in Adelaide next week when it will hear from a range of witnesses including aged care providers, health union officials and medical groups.
Further hearings will follow in other capital cities and in some regional centres.
Australian Associated Press