Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sight unseen, but all okay

It was reported yesterday that Victoria’s Auditor-General has found serious concerns with regard to State-run aged care facilities.

The state’s aged care facilities have not improved in condition in the past five years, and more were at risk of “failing, inadequate or obsolete” infrastructure, a report by the Auditor-General finds.

The report found most facilities had not improved since 2001 and many still need rebuilding. The State Government strongly disputed this.

The Victorian State Government seems to be in denial mode.

Department of Human Services secretary Patricia Faulkner said the department did not agree with some findings as the methodology was “flawed”. She said claims the overall condition of facilities had not improved was “simply not consistent with tangible fact”. ...

Aged Care Minister Gavin Jennings backed the department. He said some of the report’s findings, particularly about fire safety, “don’t ring true”.

“I want to reassure members of the Victorian community that all Victorian public sector residential aged care facilities are fire safe and compliant and meet the standards required for their ongoing certification by the Commonwealth,” he said.

That the A-G’s findings “don’t ring true” to the Minister doesn’t really give his categorical reassurances a very firm foundation. The article goes on, “The department believes the problem identified in the report is more about poor documentation than non-compliance.” Well then, it is certainly appropriate to question how any adequate level of compliance can be assumed when the relevant documentation is “poor ”.

Assuming Mr Jennings is as bright as we’d hope he is, he will of course want to allay any unnecessary concern within the community regarding the welfare of our elderly. But we’d hope he will also be wanting, discretely but urgently, to ask some hard questions, and busy his departmental staff to make certain that his assurances are borne out in reality.


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