Mike Baird on ABC's Q&A about the Aged Care Royal Commission report

Every Australian should regularly visit someone in residential care with HammondCare’s own records showing that between 30 and 40 per cent of residents don’t get a visitor each year, HammondCare Chief Executive Mike Baird told ABC’s Q&A show.

Mike was one of five panellists on the live show, Spotlight on Aged Care, broadcast on Thursday 25 February that a tackled a range of reform questions ahead of the release of the final report of the Aged Care Royal Commission.

Describing HammondCare’s care workers and nurses as an “army of angels” who provide incredible care for residents and clients, Mike said there was certainly a need for a significantly boost funding in the sector, however, the need for reform was not all about money.

He said he was sad to learn that HammondCare data shows the sad reality that many residents did not get a visitor in the previous year.

“I think as a nation we have not valued our elderly as we should. Other cultures do much more. We focus on childhood, adulthood. But for some reason we have forgotten our elderly,” he said.

“I don’t know how we have got ourselves into this position,”

“When we get to the Royal Commission, the actions needed, the funding, we should not lose sight that it’s not really about the funding,” he said. Whether its funding or personal role, it is on us.

“What really strikes me is that 40 per cent of residents across Australia did not get a visitor in the past 12 months…  I’ve looked at the data in our facilities and we are under 40 per cent but higher than 30 per cent. It is a real problem.

“You think about how many people in this country. One visit to an elderly Australian. That would do -that’s not much,” he said.

In response to discussion about examples of care failure - including most recently at Regis in the Perth suburb of Nedlands - Mike said the traumatic experience his mum Judy going into full time care meant he understood the anxiety that people feel about the aged care system.

But he said since joining HammondCare in September last year he has seen firsthand the care being delivered at the frontline, including during buddy shifts, and has been amazed at the commitment to care.

 “What I have seen is actually incredible care, incredible care from our care workers and nurses.

“I think we have lost the right sense of value of our care works and nurses on the frontline. They are an army of angels,” he said.

As well as Mike, the panel included Shadow Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Clare O’Neil, Health expert Jane Halton, geriatric medical specialist Joseph Ibrahim and Federal Liberal MP Katie Allen.

At one point, during heated argument between Ms O’Neil and Ms Allen over responsibility for the problems in the sector, Mike intervened to call for aged care reform to be placed above politics.

 “We actually have a once in a generation opportunity to get this right. My goodness, doesn’t the community deserve an aged care sector that looks after our elderly with the care and respect they deserve?”

The show also featured discussions about sexual assault, and lack of support for victims, following on from the alleged rape of former Federal Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins.

Mike expressed regret that he did not do more to change the culture of sexual assault victims when he was Premier of NSW.

“I reflect personally on it after my time in NSW Parliament and a leader of a party and a government,” Mike said. “I had the chance to do something significant here and I didn’t.

Watch the Q&A