The one-word title of the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is stark: Neglect. The report is a sobering read for those working in and around the aged care system and details much higher levels of poorly managed continence, malnutrition, overprescribing of psychotropic drugs and actual physical abuse than previously thought. Dental health is bad, wound care is worse, nutrition is abominable.
The report details a litany of problems with the sector, especially workforce problems, but unfortunately a lot of them start when older people and their families first begin to investigate their options for care. Their entry point is My Aged Care, a system that was recommendation of the Productivity Commission's Caring for older Australians inquiry in 2011. The My Aged Care website went live six years ago and the contact centre and client record about four years ago, but according to the commissioners, it is not delivering the vision the Productivity Commission outlined of seamlessly allowing people to navigate the system, and does not seem to be delivering much at all.
This week kicked off with a curious story first revealed over the weekend by the Cairns Post, which reported that the two far north Queensland hospital and health services had parted ways with the vendor chosen to roll out the electronic medical record part of the proposed Regional eHealth Project (ReHP).
This project has been on the drawing board since 2012, when Queensland Health got lucky in a bid for funding from the Commonwealth Health and Hospitals Fund (HHF), which was one of three infrastructure investment funds set up in the 2008-9 federal budget to the tune of $22.4 billion. The HHF got $5 billion of that to fund capital investment in health facilities, including for medical technology and equipment.