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‘No group is funded adequately’: OPAN chief

Craig Gear recently gave a speech about the benefits of his outfit, Older Persons Advocacy Network, as well as ways in which the aged care industry can restore public confidence post-royal commission.

Speaking to attendees at Australian Heathcare Week, Gear laid out his plan for the newly centralised OPAN – he wants a “consistency of approach” as part of the human rights perspective in the group’s advocacy.

He spoke of the group’s main aim, working on behalf of older people, and stressed the independence of the group from influence, government or otherwise.

Gear also discussed the importance of putting the needs of the older person above all else, even the families, who often need education so as to “not take the rights of the older people as they support them”.

Gear also spoke about the need to encourage older people to stand up for themselves and complain when need be.

He said that according to UK data, only between 4 and 8 per cent of older people will go through a complaints process. OPAN received approximately 11,500 requests for help last year and engaged in a similar number of education session with the elderly.

The top five complaints they received covered instances of abuse, rights, finances, insufficient choice, and unmet care and quality of care.

Gear told the audience that, in his opinion, 90 per cent of issues OPAN dealt with were down to a breakdown of communication between older people and providers, and most cases of abuse Gear has seen are familial – financial, emotional and psychological.

Gear believes that the industry is not a “fundamentally broken system”, but rather one suffering a “crisis of confidence”.

A way to fix this lies in a mixture of improved communication, transparency and action on the providers’ part.

If people know what to expect from a provider from the outset, there will be a level of trust, Gear said.

The royal commission is “shining a bright lens” on the sector right now and Gear is curious to see how they bring together these threads of information they have heard thus far to implement improvements.

One way to improve the sector would be to finance it better, he suggested.

In response to a question from an attendee, Gear said that “no group is funded adequately”, rather they have an “okay amount of funding” and to do the best job possible more money is needed.

Gear spoke with Aged Care Insite about the future of OPAN and the sector itself.

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