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Crisis accountability and aged “care” during COVID-19

Erin Jade Twyford (School of Business, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 25 May 2022

Issue publication date: 7 February 2023

725

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to fill the gaps in mandated reports with social accounts to provide more inclusive accountability during a crisis using the illustrative example of Anglicare’s Newmarch House during a deadly COVID-19 outbreak.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a close-reading method to analyse Anglicare’s annual review, reports, board meeting minutes and Royal Commission into Aged Care submissions. Informed by Foucault’s concept of biopolitics, the study collocates alternate “social accounts” in the form of investigative journalism, newspaper articles and media commentary on the events that transpired at Newmarch House to unveil a more nuanced and human-centric rendering of the ramifications of a public health/aged care crisis.

Findings

COVID-19 exacerbated pre-existing issues within the aged care sector, exemplified by Newmarch House. The privileging of financial concerns and lack of care, leadership and accountability contributed to residents’ physical, emotional and psychological distress. The biopolitical policy pursued by powerful actors let die vulnerable individuals while simultaneously making live more productive citizens and “the economy”.

Research limitations/implications

Organisations express their accountability by using financial information provided by accounting, even during circumstances with more prevailing humanistic concerns. A transformational shift in how we define, view and teach accounting is required to recognise accounting as a social and moral practice that should instead prioritise human dignity and care for the betterment of our world.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to the limited literature on aged care, extending particularly into the impact of COVID-19 while contributing to the literature concerned with crisis accountability. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper is also the first to examine a form of biopolitics centred on making live something other than persons – the economy.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The author would like to sincerely thank Lee Moerman, the special issue editors, particularly Garry Carnegie, the anonymous reviewers, Emeritus Professor Brian Martin, and members of the High-Output writing group based at the University of Wollongong for their support and comments on earlier versions of the paper.

Citation

Twyford, E.J. (2023), "Crisis accountability and aged “care” during COVID-19", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 27-51. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-05-2021-1296

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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