All older people in Australia should enjoy the same high standards of care. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many older people who experience deep and persistent disadvantage. Addressing this issue, an inter-agency Aged Care Reference Group (‘Reference Group’) has provided a submission of recommendations to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
This category of ‘deep and persistent disadvantage’ describes any older person suffering from the effects of poverty, trauma and/or social isolation, homelessness, and anyone with reduced capacity to live independently or without informal support/s from family, friends or carers.
The Reference Group, consisting of representatives from Brotherhood of St Laurence, Catholic Social Services Victoria, Housing for the Aged Action Group Inc, Jesuit Social Services, Prague House, Sacred Heart Mission, St Mary’s House of Welcome, University of Melbourne (Department of Social Work, School of Health Sciences) and VincentCare Victoria, estimate that there are over 18,000 older people in Australia experiencing this type of disadvantage who cannot readily access aged care or who are not welcome in many services.
These older people have much to offer, but they also have special aged care needs stemming from a lifetime of disadvantage. The Reference Group seeks to work with the Royal Commission and the government to ensure that this growing cohort, who experience inequity because of poor access, poor understanding and poor experiences within the aged care sector, receives the services and supports that they need.
The Submission states, “We are pleased by the work done to date by the Royal Commission and note that the Commission has heard evidence about the diversity of people receiving aged care. We are, however, writing as a group concerned to ensure that people experiencing deep and prolonged disadvantage are considered in the Final Report and recommendations.”
There are six areas in particular where the Reference Group considers that mainstream service offerings and funding do not best support this cohort. The Royal Commission has been invited to consider the following recommendations:
1. Enable earlier access to aged care services for people who are prematurely aged
2. Introduce Interim Home Care Packages to provide immediate, flexible supports for older people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
3. Broaden the types of services that can be funded under Home Care, including case management for older people experiencing deep and persistent disadvantage
4. Introduce a new supplement (in line with the tightly defined Homelessness Supplement), targeted towards specialist service providers, that recognises the additional resources required to provide care for people experiencing deep and persistent disadvantage
5. Ensure any new funding model, such as the Australian National Aged Care Classification (ANACC), adequately incentivises services for people experiencing deep and persistent disadvantage
6. Support the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to understand and define the distinctive service offering and approach needed for people experiencing deep and persistent disadvantage, including greater risk, acceptance of harm minimisation and complex social and personal care strategies
Read the full Submission, which outlines the issues and recommendations in more detail, here.