The Covid-19 pandemic has showed that much more must be done for those in aged care and with disability needs. They have experienced more than their share of sickness and death.
Take the case of nursing homes. The experience leaves no doubt that many have not been up to the task. According to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation there were 655 deaths in the aged care sector. This is a scandal.
There is also the fact that the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has added to those in need not getting the help they need.
Both cases are the result of converting needs into avenues for private profit, where the primary incentives are to maximise profit and cut down costs. Add to this inadequate oversight by the regulating authorities.
People have been dying in nursing homes because their owners cut corners to the bone and did not invest in precautions, as they pocketed pensions and held their hands out for government grants.
The NDIS, has been structured to make it as difficult as possible to get help, to achieve the government’s goal of cutting out the numbers on paper and cutting expenditure. NDIS help is only available to 12 percent of the disabled population.
The University of NSW’s Social Policy Research Centre has found strong evidence that 60 percent of Australians with disabilities have been pushed into insecure and low paying work.
Assessments have been put in the hands of private businesses, where the incentive is to downplay the need and maximise government payments. This adds to poverty, and poverty increases vulnerability. They call these ‘independent assessments.’ In truth, they are used to counter assessments made by one’s own doctor.
On top of this, both nursing homes and the NDIS are plagued with underpaid workers and low morale, and lack of resources, even though most care deeply about those who they are helping. These inadequacies must affect service delivery.
Disability workers work hard but lack the support they need
To turn around this injustice, private business provision must come to an end. Only a comprehensive public system based on meeting needs, rather than decisions based on the bottom line will work anywhere near good enough.
Access to adequate income and services must be there for all.
Workers in the system must be engaged with respect, and this means paying adequate wages, ensuring reasonable conditions at work, and making it mandatory that qualifications are at the required standard. And it means adequate training, supervision, and support.
According to the Department of Social Services’ own figures, 90,000 workers will be needed by 2024.
It means creating many more jobs to meet the demand.
All who receive the services and their carers, have a right to have a voice in the system. Who are better to ensure that it is running properly?