Xenophon calls for better elder care

New laws to stamp out abuse of the elderly have been proposed by SA-BEST leader Nick Xenophon.
New laws to stamp out abuse of the elderly have been proposed by SA-BEST leader Nick Xenophon.

SA-BEST party leader Nick Xenophon has proposed new laws to protect vulnerable South Australians from neglect as well as psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

The proposals come in the wake of the Independent Commission Against Corruption's report into Adelaide's scandal-plagued Oakden nursing home, which revealed a shockingly poor level of care.

"If we win enough seats at the state election, one of our first priorities will be ensuring we move immediately to introduce measures to protect vulnerable adult South Australians, particularly the elderly, from abuse," Mr Xenophon said on Wednesday.

The proposals include the establishment of a vulnerable adult protection unit to investigate allegations of abuse, and the introduction of penalties for health care staff, administrators or even ministers who fail to report abuse.

SA-BEST will also support the use of CCTV cameras in residential care facilities and work with the state and federal governments to develop assessment tools to better identify people at risk.

The former senator joined Premier Jay Weatherill and opposition spokesperson Stephen Wade for a leaders forum on ageing on Wednesday.

Among the topics discussed was the installation of CCTV cameras in aged care facilities for the protection of residents.

The state government last week said surveillance cameras will be installed in aged-care homes as part of the response to the Oakden affair.

"We've looked at our legislation, the state legislation, and there's no barrier to that being introduced in federally-registered or -supervised aged care facilities," Mr Weatherill said.

"There are probably some important questions about whether they are in common areas or whether they're in private rooms, and the distinction between those matters."

New state-run facilities have been fitted with CCTV cameras in common areas, while families have the option to install cameras in private rooms.

Mr Xenophon agreed with the premier's sentiment that CCTV could also protect employees from false accusations by residents.

"I think we should get on with it," he said.

Australian Associated Press