Preparing for the Royal Commission

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As we prepare for the Royal Commission into aged care, it is worth considering what providers can learn from what has occurred at the Financial Services Royal Commission.

One of the terms of reference for the Financial Services Royal Commission is “whether any conduct, practices, behaviour or business activities by financial services entities fall below community standards and expectations”. Whilst we don’t know what the terms of reference will be for aged care, it is worth considering the damage done to individual and corporate reputations, staff moral and consumer confidence by individuals from financial service providers who gave evidence and at times:

  • Appeared to lack an understanding of relevant laws & regulations;
  • Conceded that either they or others in their organisations acted in their own interests not in the interests of the people they were advising;
  • Were forced to admit they or their organisations had failed to meet community standards and expectations; and
  • In some cases had to concede failures of compliance with the law.

It was a failure to meet community expectations about the way elderly should be treated and cared for that resulted in the negative media reporting which culminated in the two 4 Corners programs. Regardless of whether the carers captured on the hidden cameras thought they were doing nothing wrong or were only undertaking their jobs as they had been told to, their behaviour appalled anyone who watched the programs.

Many of my clients have already been contacted by care recipients and/or their families advising that they will be taking their complaints “to the Royal Commission”. Whether that results in those providers having to provide evidence remains to be seen but the preparation starts now. Aside from the many legal issues that flow from the investigative powers of a Royal Commission, I am urging them to think about:

  1. how their handling of these issues, culture and model of care will be viewed by the community; and
  2. how prepared the organisation and particularly key personnel are for answering questions about their obligations as approved providers.

While we wait for the terms of reference, ensuring that your organisation can comfortably and confidently address these two issues is perhaps the best way to begin preparations.

Joanne O'Brien

An expert with years of experience in, and passion for, advising the not for profit sector in all aspects of their operations from creation, management, mergers and governance through to risk and compliance and beyond, particularly in the aged care sector.