'We're not guilty,' says aged care provider
The chief executive of the Peninsula's largest aged care facility has criticised findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care for their generalised nature, while defending his own organisation's performance.
Peninsula Village chief Mr Shane Neaves said the commissioners had described testimony about the aged care system as "a shocking tale of neglect".
"Frankly, I do take some offence to the report's comments that are aimed as a generalisation of our industry," he said.
"The report paints a terrible picture suggesting that all providers are guilty of the same neglect as those examples that have been voiced at the Royal Commission hearings.
"I wholeheartedly believe that there are shortfalls in our industry, but it is truly challenging to motivate a team of hardworking people when they are constantly being told they aren't good enough.
"To state that the sector is 'unkind and uncaring' towards older people must be corrected.
"I do admit that Peninsula Villages isn't perfect and we do make mistakes, but we are not, in my opinion, unkind or uncaring towards our residents.
"These comments really impact those of us who work in the sector and are truly committed to the delivery of quality care and understanding of residents' needs.
"We do our best in an environment that has its difficulties.
"I honestly believe the staff here at Peninsula Villages are one of our biggest assets and are confident our beloved residents would agree with this sentiment.
"To therefore, be generally labelled as being unkind and uncaring, is just not appropriate.
"What is disappointing however is the throw away statement by the Commissioners that has an impact on all aged care providers,' Mr Neaves continued.
"We admit mistakes occur but to say the sector as a whole is 'substandard and unsafe' is an unfair critique of the industry and those who are working hard to maintain it."
"All in all, I would personally consider the report to be an inaccurate overview of the industry as a whole and I do feel a little disillusioned with its outcomes."
Mr Neaves defended the performance of Peninsula Villages.
"As chief executive of Peninsula Villages, a position that I take very seriously, I can assure you that together with my team we endeavour to deliver the best care to our residents.
"I am confident that we do this well and we do this because we care.
"As you may be aware, we were recently awarded the Outstanding Employer of Choice by the NSW Business Chamber for the regional Central Coast awards.
"This is a wonderful acknowledgement of our community organisation and highlights the appreciation we have for our staff.
"I am in agreeance with the fact that the access to aged care services is hugely complex," Mr Neaves said.
"Here at Peninsula Villages we endeavour to do our best with the limited funding we are provided.
"Our commitment to resident focused care, that we are currently rolling out across the organisation, proves that we are focused on our residents' needs.
"Peninsula Villages has a strong clinical governance structure in place which addresses any shortfalls in service delivery.
"Our team, the executive and our board take this extremely seriously.
"In regard to the comments in the report regarding 'underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce', we certainly acknowledge that the award rates within the sector are poor and in no way reflective of the dedication of those who work within it.
"At Peninsula Villages we pride ourselves on providing staff with additional benefits beyond wages.
"We have an encouraging and flexible employee program that aims to motivate and support our team.
"We also assure our staff that they are not undervalued, not by management or our residents. "Our monthly chief executive officer afternoons are dedicated to recognising our team.
"We celebrate staff anniversaries. We reward our team through service awards and, most of all, we look at ways of implementing initiatives throughout our organisation that have, at their core, a focus on our team.
"In terms of training, you only need to look at our recent annual report to see the commitment we make as an organisation to training and education.
"I would consider that we do better than most in our industry in this area."
Mr Neaves placed many of the problems of the aged care industry at the feet of government.
"The report looked over government action around the aged care industry, finding that in many cases the government barely implemented recommendations suggested to them over numerous inquiries, and, in some cases, didn't respond to inquiry reports at all," he said.
"Due to the funding model that we work under, we cannot deny that there are limitations in services.
"In our annual report, I commented on the Aged Care Financial Report that stated residential aged care expenses increased by 5.4 per cent and our government funding (income) rose by only 1.3 per cent.
"That means that while more expenses are incurred across residential aged care, less income is received.
"We know something has to give, and here at the Village we are lucky enough to have other sources of income to subsidise our aged care services.
"Once again, this is due to a strong commitment by the Village and board to do our best," Mr Neaves said.
Mr Neaves acknowledged that the Commissioners had found that there were serious instances of substandard care and unsafe practices.
"This certainly is a problem," said Mr Neaves.
"I know that shortfalls in service provision in the industry is common.
He said the report stated: "The recent interim report has found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of older, vulnerable citizens.
"It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.
"The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done.
"Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation."
Mr Neaves said: "Commissioners describe in the report the many problems that older people and their families have in trying to get access to aged care services.
"This included service shortfalls, the dispiriting nature of residential care as well as serious substandard care and unsafe practices.
"It also identifies the underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce and isolation of young people with disabilities," he said.
"I hope everyone involved in the sector who has pride in the delivery of service we provide, supports each other and continues to work hard for our residents who know us best," Mr Neaves said.
Media release, 2 Dec 2019
Shane Neaves, Peninsula Villages