Lisa Trigg, our Assistant Director of Research, Data and Intelligence, recently gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety in Australia. Here she explains what the commission is about and what the experience was like.
What is the Royal Commission?
Like most countries, Australia has had its fair share of problems in what it calls ‘aged care’ – what we refer to as social care for older people. These came to a head after problems of abuse and neglect were uncovered in Oakden, a unit for people living with dementia, followed by a series of abuse cases featured on ABC’s Four Corners television programme – similar to Panorama in the UK.
In response, the Prime Minister of Australia requested that a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety be set up. The commission was set up at the end of 2018, and is looking at all aspects of how older people are cared for and what needs to happen to make care services better. It is due to publish its findings in April 2020.
Why was I asked to be there?
I was asked to give evidence after the commission became aware of my PhD research into how governments can help improve quality in aged care. This is research I carried out at the London School of Economics before taking up my role at Social Care Wales. It involved comparing how England and Australia approach quality in residential care. I spent five months in Australia interviewing people in the sector, so the commission was keen to hear about my findings.
What did I do at the commission?
The commission summoned me (with my permission!) to give evidence at the hearing into person-centred care in Australia at the end of June. A big part of my research was thinking about ways we can define quality in social care and the concept of ‘relationship-centred quality’, something which draws heavily on the idea of person-centred care. This was of great interest to the commission.
Its legal team also asked me to listen to the other witnesses and to give my thoughts about what they had to say when I gave my evidence at the end of the week. The transcript of my evidence is available here and you can also see a webcast of my evidence from 28 June here.
What was the experience like?
The experience was very special. I felt extraordinarily privileged to contribute to the work of the commission, and I was enormously impressed by the commitment and quality of the team. From the start of my involvement, I was well looked after and I felt well-prepared after a series of conference calls to discuss my evidence before I left the UK. I left the commission feeling highly optimistic that the team will be able to make a difference for older people in Australia.
Why does it mean for Social Care Wales?
One of the main responsibilities of my role is to understand what is happening outside Wales and the lessons we can draw upon. Comparing how social care works in different countries is one of the best ways of identifying new opportunities for doing things better. Giving evidence to the commission was also a great way of raising the profile of Social Care Wales, and making connections with people who are committed to making a difference to quality and safety in social care.