MP Pat Conroy cites local case studies in federal parliament to highlight problems in aged and home care

STORY TOLD: Kirby Littley and her parents Carol and Kevin leave the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hearing in Melbourne on Wednesday. Shortland MP Pat Conroy wants a hearing scheduled in the Hunter. Picture: David Crosling
STORY TOLD: Kirby Littley and her parents Carol and Kevin leave the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hearing in Melbourne on Wednesday. Shortland MP Pat Conroy wants a hearing scheduled in the Hunter. Picture: David Crosling

MEMBER for Shortland Pat Conroy has today in parliament cited the experiences of local constituents in highlighting problems in aged and home care.

"My office is regularly contacted by constituents about the appalling aged-care and home-care crisis that is unfolding in Australia," Mr Conroy told the House.

"This is particularly important in my electorate of Shortland, where one in five people are over the age of 65. For these reasons, I wrote to the Royal Commissioners inquiring into aged-care quality and safety in Australia, inviting them to hold a hearing of the Royal Commission in my region."

The Labor MP said some of the stories that had so far emerged from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety were "truly shocking".

"It is equally shocking to realise that there are some 129,000 older Australians on a waiting list for care at home," he said.

Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy, in federal parliament, Canberra. Picture: Nick Moir

Member for Shortland, Pat Conroy, in federal parliament, Canberra. Picture: Nick Moir

"One of those is my constituent Wally, who I have spoken about in the House before. It is now 12 months since Wally was approved for a Level 4 package, and yet he is still waiting, receiving care at the lower Level 2.

"His devoted wife, Edna, is grateful for help with showering and respite to do the shopping, but she is still not able to go to church, which she misses greatly. Wally and Edna desperately want to remain in their home-they just need the appropriate level of care to enable them to do so. And still they wait."

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Mr Conroy also spoke of another constituent, Colin, of Speers Point, who had told the MP about the red tape he had faced with the application process.

"Colin was deemed to be eligible for a Level 3 package, but ran into trouble getting information from Centrelink that he had to provide to the Department of Health," Mr Conroy said.

"Colin had told MyAgedCare that Centrelink had made a mistake and he needed more time to provide the required documents, but he was told an extension was not possible. His package expired and he had to start all over again.

"This bureaucracy is unacceptable; it just makes it much harder for our senior Australians to get the level of care that they need and are entitled to.

"Another constituent, John, raised with me the fact that packages are assigned to individuals and not to couples, and that this can have serious ramifications when one partner goes to hospital, into aged care, or passes away."

The Royal Commission is currently holding the first of three hearings in Melbourne. The first hearing is on the subject of younger people in residential aged care.

Subsequent hearings in Melbourne will look at diversity in aged care, and the aged care workforce.

A hearing scheduled to be held in Mudgee from November 4 will look at the provision of aged care in regional areas.

A hearing scheduled for Hobart from November 11 will consider the aged care operations of selected approved providers.

Mr Conroy urged the government to take action.

"The government must hear these concerns and must respond. It must increase the number of home-care packages to meet the demand, and it must hear the voices giving evidence to the Royal Commission," he said.

"Our aged-care system is not working, and the government must act."

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