The 2020 interim report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, titled Neglect, painted a bleak picture of a sector in deep trouble.
The report was clear: in aged care facilities around the country, care is often poor or carried out by workers who lack the necessary skills.
Witnesses told the commission of people living with dementia cared for by people who do not really understand the disease.
Others spoke of suffering from chronic oral health issues, because no-one noticed the warning signs.
Some families are not prepared for the death of their loved ones, because care staff do not have the skills or knowledge to recognise when a resident is dying.
What can be done to improve care for some of the most vulnerable in our community?
We at the Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care (ACEBAC) at La Trobe University believe it is critical to provide staff with education and training based on the best available evidence.
Caring for vulnerable older people requires specialist skill and knowledge, and an ability to work in partnership with residents and their families.
That should come as no surprise to anyone - and yet it has not always been a high priority for either the vocational or higher education sectors.
Fortunately, in Victoria at least, things are starting to change.
In 2020, the Victorian government allocated $1 million to ACEBAC to help address this issue.
The result is an online education and training package called Victorian Aged Care Education and Training (VACET).
It focuses on three key areas - dementia care, palliative care, and oral and dental hygiene.
Based on the best available evidence, the package is free, and readily accessible to all staff working in residential aged care across the state.
So, if you know someone working in aged care in Victoria, mention it to them. And if you live in another state, find out what specialised training is available to aged care workers, or lobby your local MP for more support.
Because whether you're a child, grandchild or friend of someone living in aged care - or just someone who believes societies should protect their most vulnerable - we are all invested in this issue.
Supporting all workers to provide safe, high-quality aged care is absolutely vital.
Professor Deirdre Fetherstonhaugh and Dr Anne-Marie Mahoney are researchers at The Australian Centre for Evidence Based Aged Care (ACEBAC) at La Trobe University.