Thursday 22nd March 2012
After six years of sterling service as president of the Quality Aged Care Action Group (QACAG), Lucille McKenna is optimistic about the future for this “small but vibrant” group.After more than 40 years working in aged care, with the past six as president of QACAG (the Quality Aged Care Action Group), Lucille McKenna is an authoritative voice in the sector.
Now preparing to retire from the presidential role, Lucille says the sector has a much higher profile than it did when QACAG was formed.
“QACAG has been useful in spreading an understanding about all aspects of aged care, not just nursing and wages but also the perspective of family members and how they feel,” Lucille told The Lamp.
“We’ve made some impact. QACAG has been a serial contributor to all inquiries into aged care. The Productivity Commission definitely knows who we are. QACAG gave us the opportunity to contribute to inquiries and government select committees. It is a vehicle to give people a voice about aged care.”
Lucille says that while there is still work to be done to move the Federal Government to support aged care, the group’s achievements should not be underestimated.
She said QACAG’s work had been complementary to the Australian Nursing Federation’s (ANF) Because We Care campaign.
“The campaign has been reasonably successful from an awareness point of view. There is still work to be done to move the government but the politicians are aware of the issues.”
She said the goal had always been to bring aged care out of the shadows and into the light.
“We wanted to form an organisation that was to engage members of the public on aged care issues. That was the catalyst for starting QACAG.”
Lucille says she is impressed by the energy and savvy of QACAG’s committed membership.
“It’s an important organisation. There are a few nurses who are still working who are involved but there are also retired aged care nurses and members of the public whose lives come into contact with aged care through their parents or partners. It’s a vibrant group even though it is relatively small,” she says.
Of the challenges that remain for QACAG Lucille says: “Skills mix is still an issue. Wages parity is still an issue. There still aren’t enough people to do the job in aged care. Standards are not as good as they should be. But I’m always optimistic.”