Local, Independant and Effective

Indi's Aged Care Services doing wonderful work

Posted October 15, 2018


Indi's Aged Care services are crucial to the communities they serve. We need the government to be an active partner in putting in the resources and the money needed to provide these services.


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (17:26): I support the comments from the member for Grey and the attention he gave to the extra costs of providing services in rural areas. I too would like to address that as part of my speech. I welcome the government's establishment of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. It's timely and an important inquiry. In my electorate of Indi, every year I undertake a community survey. In the 2018 Indi budget survey, 79.4 per cent of respondents said that the issue of aged care and health was very important to them.

The screening of the ABC Four Corners program highlighted totally unacceptable treatment of some people living in residential aged-care facilities and created great conversation in my electorate of Indi. This ABC program showed that there's a difference between our expectation—our want—that people in our community be cared for and what is actually happening in some areas.

I'm looking forward to the terms of reference of the royal commission. The commissioners have now been announced, so I'll be really looking forward to encouraging my community to make submissions to that royal commission.

However, I don't think we need to wait until it's all done before we start active work on this. There's real, important work that needs to be done around aged-care workforce planning. Approximately 11.3 per cent of Australians aged 70 and over live in outer regional, remote and very remote areas, and residential aged-care facilities in our remote and outer regional areas are generally exactly as the member for Grey has said: small in size. These facilities lack the economies of scale and the scope that are often the case in urban areas, and aged-care costs per person in these settings are much more expensive. So it's this whole sense of: how do we design innovative, creative and effective solutions for our people who live in small country towns and more remote areas?

Today, I want to talk about some of the issues that we know exist. We know that cost is a factor. It's not only the cost of providing services; it's the cost of getting people and staff to and from services. For example, in Corryong, if you're going to bring up a specialist from Albury-Wodonga, it's the time and the cost of the travel, the two-hour trip both ways, to get there. That's expensive. But it's also that in Corryong, a small country town, we don't have access to the specialist services that we need, and they have to travel, which it is important that they do. But I'd also like to say that one of the wonderful things about the Corryong community is that it has got such creativity and such innovation in addressing its own problems. It, together with Alpine Health, has done stand-out work under a model called multipurpose provision of services, and I'll talk about that a little bit later.

The answers in many instances do lie within the communities, and we need the government then to be an active partner in putting in the resources and the money needed to provide these services. What's been happening in communities like Corryong, which has tried so hard as a community to address its own needs, is government has given it a slap in the face by cutting the services, cutting the extra funding needed to bring specialist allied health people into the community to do the work. For a lot of things, we know what needs to be done now. The knowledge is held and we don't really need to wait until the end of the royal commission to support all this.

In my own community of Indi there's a fantastic organisation which looks at the scoping and training needs in rural and aged care. They've set up a network, including Wodonga, Beechworth, Corryong, Tallangatta and Alpine, which is Mansfield, Mount Beauty and Bright. The network is supported by La Trobe University to do a lot of this work together and has so much knowledge. At another time, the minister responsible, the member for Hasluck, came and visited north-east Victoria, conducted a roundtable meeting with the primary partnerships group and talked about the really good models that were already in existence. So we know a lot. But what we don't do is say, 'How do we get the knowledge that's on the ground and link it upwards to the decision-makers at that level?' It's such a big gap, and I think we put the bureaucracy in the middle and make it so difficult. I'm hoping that, as part of the royal commission, definitely, and as part of the commissioner, the job will be to work out how we can bring these two things together. Because there is so much local knowledge, and I hear it when I go around and see some of the wonderful, innovative, creative things that are happening. It's just not reflected up the chain.

I want to spend a few minutes of my time talking about some of the wonderful models and organisations that work in my electorate and to say: thank you for your creativity, your innovation, your problem-solving and the wonderful care you give to my constituents. I'm going to name some of them. In Myrtleford there's Barwidgee Lodge. In Mansfield there's Beolite Village and, associated with the hospital, Bindaree Retirement Centre. In Tallangatta, Bolga Court does a terrific job, with a beautiful view overlooking the lake; it's almost like a men's shed where people can build things and do things. They've done a fantastic job in providing, in the most glorious part of north-east Victoria, a really lovely service-provision model.

In Wodonga proper we've got Bupa, which operates a more traditional nursing-home arrangement. In Benalla there's Cooinda Village. At Lake Eildon we've got Darlingford Upper Goulburn Nursing Home, and what a fantastic job it does. We've got Estia Health in Wodonga. In Rutherglen, a small country town near where I live, we've got Glenview Community Care Nursing Home—and a special call-out for Glenview. Not only do they provide aged care, which they do really well; they also connect up with the childcare centre just across the road, and they're linked with Indigo North Health and provide fantastic community care for residents.

In Bright we've got the Hawthorn Village Aged Care Hostel, which is run by Alpine Health. Down at Alexander, we've got Kellock Lodge, and what a fantastic job the board of Kellock Lodge has done recently in its negotiations with the Anglican diocese—a special call-out to your board and the community there. In Mount Beauty there's Kiewa Valley House. At Tallangatta we've also got the Lakeview Nursing Home, which is associated with Alpine Health. In Benalla we've got the Morrie Evans Wing attached to the nursing hospital. In Myrtleford we've got Myrtleford Lodge Aged Care. In Wangaratta we've got Rangeview Private Nursing Home and we've got St Catherine's Hostel, which does a fantastic job. I was really pleased to take the minister there earlier this year. We've also got St John's Village in Wangaratta. In Yea we've got Rosebank Nursing Home. In Corryong we've got the Upper Murray nursing home. Out at Baranduda, near Wodonga, we've got Westmont Aged Care Services, and what a fantastic model they now provide—all types of care; they're picking up the home and community care and they're now a centre of excellence for the provision of aged care right across north-east Victoria.

In Yackandandah, which is where I want to finish this brief outline, is the Yamaroo hospital. The Yamaroo hospital is run by the Yackandandah Health service. If ever you want to see a community that has the most amazing approach to community health, it's Yackandandah. We used to have the old Bush Nursing Hospital, but for a whole lot of reasons that didn't work, so now it's called Yackandandah Health. The nursing home and hostel go with it. They're doing amazing development now. They've found a paddock behind the hospital and they're building specialist accommodation there, integrating it into the community. One of the things I particularly love about Yackandandah Health—they visited parliament recently with their plans for integration of housing and health and care—is the work they're doing with the Totally Renewable Yackandandah project. Totally Renewable Yackandandah is a model of energy generation at the community level. The old hospital, as it's still fondly known, has got this enormous array of solar panels on the roof. I wasn't able to find the figures in time for today's speech, but they now generate so much of their electricity themselves.

What I was really hoping to do in my speech is to say that it's really timely to have the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bill before the House and it's really good that we've got the royal commission happening, but let's not forget the fantastic work happening in our communities as we speak. I give a call-out to the people providing the care. They give the opportunity of the solutions done at the local level and the regional level to be bubbling up through the system so that we can learn and value-add.

I want to finish my talk on the role of the multipurpose service, and the MPSs that operate in Corryong and in Alpine, which are Bright, Mount Beauty and Myrtleford. MPSs were an effort by communities to bring health together into one bundle. There are seven funded MPSs in Victoria. They're funded by the Commonwealth, with support from the Victorian government, to provide the needs that our communities have identified. I think it's a fantastic model, but it sadly doesn't have the support that it needs, so I've been lobbying the various ministers, saying we need to review the funding and review the operation. We really need to bring the MPSs into the 21st century and give them the resources that they need to actually meet the needs of local communities. Corryong is doing that, but it could do with so much more love, care and support. Alpine, in its way, is doing some fantastic work. I would just love to see a lot more attention given to those really good models.

My final call-out that I would really like to bring to the parliament is the role that some of those smaller, more isolated community groups have with telehealth. I'm so impressed by an amazing network of telehealth operating right across north-east Victoria. To Albury Wodonga Health, and particularly to the old Wangaratta hospital, now Northeast Health Wangaratta, what a fabulous job you're doing in getting telehealth out into the small hospitals, enabling specialist services and diagnostic services and really using modern technology to make our system work so much better. I call out to the University of Melbourne Northeast Health Wangaratta model and all the partnership institutions that are now working together. Every time I go out to the communities and visit the hospitals or aged-care facilities and see the work they're doing, I'm just so full of pride at the innovation and the technical expertise that our communities can bring to bear in solving problems.

Tonight, as I bring my comments to a close, I think we've got an enormous amount to offer in the future as we design healthcare services that particularly meet our needs in rural and regional Australia. We must know that rural and regional Australia are different. It often costs more to deliver services there. Our particular communities have often got a lot to be involved with, and we can do so much if we make better use of them. I would like to encourage all my existing networks to link into the scoping, skills and training needs in rural aged care. To the members of the network providers in north-east Victoria, great work. La Trobe has a centre for rural health, and they're doing some fantastic research work around aged care. So good work, north-east Victoria. I'm really looking forward to being your advocate as we move forward. I hope we can get some action before the end of the royal commission. I hope we can find a way of getting change on the ground now and not wait until 2020 before we actually get the results out of that. I look forward to working with the minister and the opposition as we progress this and come up with some really strong plans for aged care in rural and regional Australia.

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