Govt slow on aged care reform: expert

Government slow to move on aged care overhaul says expert Ron Paterson

Aged Care Royal Commission
Professor Ron Paterson said he was disappointed by the slow pace of change in aged care regulation.

Professor Ron Paterson said he was disappointed by the slow pace of change in aged care regulation.


Review should have been a wake-up call, says Professor Ron Paterson.


The federal government has been slow to implement a major regulatory overhaul to improve the quality of aged care, the expert who called for the changes says.

Professor Ron Paterson said he had hoped the Oakden nursing home scandal in South Australia and a review he co-authored into aged care quality regulation would be a wake-up call.

But two years later, he is disappointed by the slow pace of change.

Cases like last month's abrupt closure of Queensland's Earle Haven Retirement Village suggest the lessons have not yet been learnt, Prof Paterson told the aged care royal commission.

Prof Paterson said he was disappointed by the government's slowness in implementing the recommendations of his and Kate Carnell's independent review.

He said the 10 recommendations were all accepted in principle but "the devil is in the detail".

"I can't help suspecting that some of them are not actually being progressed and given what this whole royal commission is about and what we were reviewing, I think one needs to go back to the rationale for the recommendations.

"I believe there is still force to them, but of course that is a matter that will now be revisited by this royal commission."

The review called for further reform to help prevent a repeat of the regulatory failures that occurred at Oakden.

The government has introduced a number of measures including establishing the new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission that began operating in January.

Prof Paterson said Australia lags behind other comparable health systems, such as in the United Kingdom, in its regulatory processes for aged care quality.

He said Australia does not publish good quality comparative information for consumers about aged care services.

The law professor and former New Zealand health and disability commissioner agreed an accreditation regime that simply provided for a "met" or "not met" outcome was not enough.

Prof Paterson said since his review, consumer experience reports have been developed but more granulated information was needed to help people.

Health department officials will give evidence at the royal commission's Brisbane hearing on Thursday.

Other witnesses include a woman who lives in an aged care facility, who will tell the inquiry people can be quite scared when it comes to speaking out and residents' voices are often ignored or dismissed.

Australian Associated Press