News National Minister backs cameras, star ratings for troubled aged care system

Minister backs cameras, star ratings for troubled aged care system

aged care
Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has backed the use of cameras to keep residents safe. Photo: Getty
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Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt is open to placing security cameras in all nursing home rooms so any potential abuses can be detected.

Mr Wyatt also supports a star-rating system for residential aged-care facilities, ahead of a royal commission into the sector, which will begin by the end of this year.

However, the federal government has distanced itself from a union proposal to legislate staffing levels.

The minister believes were it not for secret cameras hidden in aged-care suites by family members, several high profile cases of violence and neglect would never have come to light.

He acknowledges there are privacy concerns around installing mandatory cameras, but says the discussion is not off the table.

“I can appreciate the families who are very strongly supportive now of cameras within those rooms,” Mr Wyatt told ABC radio on Tuesday.

None of this would have been known without that footage as to how those individuals were treated.”

Mr Wyatt is on board with an aged care star-rating system similar to the My School website, which profiles almost 10,000 Australian schools.

The suggestions come in the wake of a two-part expose into the country’s aged care system by ABC’s 4 Corners. On Monday night, it showed footage of staff at aged care facilities striking residents and handling them roughly, including of a woman with a broken leg crying out in pain as she was flipped into a chair with no warning.

Mr Wyatt said the majority of aged-care facilities provide quality service, but there is an “insidious” side to some centres that the public does not see.

He is also considering ordering safety and compliance officers to perform unannounced night-time spot checks on residential centres, to make sure the number of staff and levels of care are adequate.

Submissions to the aged-care royal commission close on Tuesday.

Mr Wyatt will then hold meetings to finalise the terms of reference and identify the commissioners, with a view to kicking off the inquiry this year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the commission would investigate staffing levels, but has pointed out that two previous inquiries into the sector rejected minimum requirements.

“But … it’s not for me to prejudge what the royal commission thinks is a good way to go forward,” he said.

Mr Morrison said Australians were increasingly going into residential aged care at a much more acute level of need, and high standards were important.

Council on the Ageing’s Ian Yates said the commission must investigate appropriate penalties for neglect, excessive restraint and abuse in residential aged care.

Mr Yates said the inquiry must also examine the need for more effective monitoring of staff and use of CCTV cameras.

He wants older Australians and their families to be able to easily see the history of complaints and serious incidents levelled against nursing homes to guide their decision-making.