Shadow Minister for Ageing Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells with residents Bibi and Mary Pavan at Hibiscus Gardens Aged care hostel yesterday.
Shadow Minister for Ageing Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells with residents Bibi and Mary Pavan at Hibiscus Gardens Aged care hostel yesterday. Jen Tybell

Opposition targets aged care

THE aged care sector is in an industry in crisis, according to the Coalition.

The Coalition’s spokesperson on ageing, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells and LNP-endorsed candidate Ken O’Dowd visited several nursing homes in the Gladstone region, including Hibiscus Gardens Aged Care Hostel yesterday.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells became the shadow minister when Tony Abbott took over leadership of the Coalition.

Her background in aged care started when she became board director at an Illawarra nursing home. Since being handed the portfolio, the Senator has met with aged care providers, and she said operators recognised the need for compliance, but there needed to be “balance”.

“A seasoned nurse in Biloela told me she spends at least a third of her day filling in paperwork,” she said.

Review after review had brought no change in the stricken sector, Senator Fierravanti-Wells said, and extra money flowing into the industry had not assuaged the problems. “Each of those has said it’s time for major reforms. Regrettably the Government hasn’t taken any decisions,” Sen Fierravanti-Wells said.

One aged care facility manager operator informed the Senator they had provided 17 submissions in the past three years.

“That’s very indicative of comments made to me by aged care providers all over Australia,” she said.

While the Senator was not forthcoming about a date of aged care policy release, she did intimate it would be announced “shortly”.

Mr O’Dowd said the issue was bigger than he imagined before he threw his hat in the Flynn ring.

“No matter where I go in the electorate, aged care is the same problem,” Mr O’Dowd said.

If Mr O’Dowd was to win the seat, he would investigate the racecourse as a possible site for an aged care facility. The racecourse, in Mr O’Dowd’s mind, is the most amenable site for a new aged care facility in Gladstone.

“We need to look at the wages for nursing staff, money has to be laid down in the right places to get more beds,” he said.

“If the right climate was there for a private investor to come into town and build it, but at the moment the return just isn’t there.



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