Appalling elder abuse highlights failure of our system

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Media Release

26 July 2016

Appalling elder abuse highlights failure of our system

Alzheimer’s Australia National President Professor Graeme Samuel AC today said he is appalled at the footage of elder abuse caught on hidden cameras and reported on the ABC 7:30 Report. 

“This horrendous footage indicates a systemic failure or our aged care system in Australia. It highlights a failing to protect the basic human rights of some of our community’s most vulnerable people, many of whom experience dementia. 

“It is easy to jump to the conclusion that we need 24/7 monitoring through CCTV cameras in every aged care facility - but this is not the answer. We need to address the fundamental issues in the aged care system, rather than simply creating a system of compliance and monitoring which could violate the privacy of residents.

“More than 50% of residents in Australian Government-subsidised aged care facilities have dementia.  We know that people with dementia are at significantly higher risk of falling prey to elder abuse,” Professor Samuel said. 

Alzheimer’s Australia is currently working on a submission to the National Elder Abuse Inquiry being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The inquiry will review how laws respond to elder abuse, and how they can better protect older Australians and remain effective and appropriate in a changing world. 

Professor Samuel went on to say it is simply unacceptable that there is currently not a single publicly reported measure of quality in place for aged care in Australia. 

“Publically reported quality indicators in aged care is something Alzheimer’s Australia has been advocating for as a priority. Until the sector can enforce quality measures that focus on quality of life, rather than clinical outcomes, this type of unacceptable abuse will continue to happen and slip through the gaps. 

“The voluntary program of quality indicators that is currently in place is clearly not working and is in stark contrast to the health system which has successfully implemented a range of quality measures as part of its accreditation program, through the excellent work of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. 

“The aged care system must be fundamentally transformed to focus on supporting people to live meaningful lives with dignity, choice and independence and to ensure that people with dementia are not experiencing abuse,” Professor Samuel said.

Media enquiries:
Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | [email protected]

Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 353,800 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

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