A royal commission inquiry into the aged care sector’s response to the coronavirus pandemic will not centre on the ongoing crisis in Victoria where more COVID-19 fatalities are expected.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety says it does not want to distract the state and aged care providers, nor cause unnecessary distress for residents’ families.
The commissioners are closely monitoring the evolving and ongoing crisis in Victoria but its August hearing will not specifically focus on the state’s response to the pandemic, the commission said on Wednesday.
“To focus their inquiry on the Victorian response at this time would unnecessarily distract the state, affected aged care providers and those working within affected aged care services and in aged care across Victoria more generally.
“Importantly, such a focus would cause unnecessary additional stress and distress for those grieving the loss of loved ones and those concerned for the wellbeing of others.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the coronavirus outbreaks in Victorian aged care facilities were the result of sustained community transmission.
“The royal commission will have absolute ability to go into the intricacies of these issues and I hope they do because all lessons always must be learnt,” he said.
“We are aware of the problems that have occurred and more importantly are taking actions to deal with those problems and to try and prevent them in the case of any outbreaks that may occur in the future in these facilities.”
The royal commission said it will examine the aged care sector’s preparedness for the unfolding crisis in Australia and whether there have been systemic failures.
Its focus was on the sector’s response and what could be learned for responding to future pandemics and infectious disease outbreaks, not on finding fault or apportioning blame.
Three NSW aged care facilities where residents died, Newmarch House, Dorothy Henderson Lodge and Opal Care Bankstown, will be examined during the August 10-13 hearing.
Federal Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy said a report into the Dorothy Henderson Lodge outbreak had been provided to the royal commission, but the complex Newmarch House review was not yet completed.
He said communication with families represented the biggest breakdown and most important lesson in the Newmarch outbreak, where 19 residents died.Do you have an idea for a story?
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