A new national action plan unveiled last week will aim to halve the number of young people with disability entering residential aged care within six years.
Minister for Families and Social Services, Paul Fletcher made the announcement at Summer Foundation’s Get Building SDA National Conference 2019 in Melbourne on Friday.
Currently, more than 50 younger Australians with disability or high needs are moved into residential aged care each week, totalling 6000 people nationally, a situation Mr Fletcher describes as “unacceptable”.
The Young People in Aged Care Action Plan will support people aged under 45 years old already living in aged care to find alternative, age-appropriate housing by 2022, people aged under 65 to find alternative, age-appropriate by 2025 and halve the number of people under 65 years old entering aged care by 2025.
“But we will not stop there; beyond 2025, we will continue our work to minimise to the fullest extent possible the number of younger people under 65 years of age entering and living in aged care,” Mr Fletcher says.
Chief of Staff at Summer Foundation Carolyn Finis is very pleased to see a clear target set to halve the number of young people entering aged care.
“This is a great step toward our goal that ultimately no young person should be forced to enter aged care.
“The action plan acknowledges the complex nature of this problem, and recognises the need for the Health, Housing and Disability sectors to work collaboratively to achieve this targeted reduction in admissions of young people to aged care.
“We think a collaborative approach is critical, and believe that with stakeholders working effectively together a reduction of 50 percent admissions can be achieved even more quickly!
“There is enormous value in the shift in culture this action plan represents.
“To young people faced with the prospect of moving into aged care, this Action Plan is saying that there should be other options option to you – that the government is committed to funding more suitable alternatives.
“And for those young people already in aged care who are wanting to move out, it is telling you that you will be supported,” she says.
Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin also welcomes the announcement.
“It's good to see government action on addressing the issue of young people with disability in nursing homes.
“The greater challenge is to make sure no young person with disability enters or remains in settings that are age-inappropriate,” he says.
Chief Executive of disability accommodation provider YoungCare, Anthony Ryan says the plan is a strong step in the right direction.
“One of the greatest social inequalities young people impacted by disability through birth or accident or life circumstance face is living in aged care or nursing homes — the majority of Australians would have no idea the extent to which this is taking place.
“I absolutely think this is a realistic time frame and am so grateful that this has been committed to.”
The plan would be funded under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) through the National Disability Insurance Agency’s Complex Support Needs Pathway.
Assistant Minister for Social Services, Housing and Disability Services, Sarah Henderson says the Complex Needs Pathway will provide specialised support and the NDIS will help young participants in aged care find appropriate Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).
“NDIA planners will work with younger NDIS participants and their families as a priority to look at housing options and include funding for home modifications or SDA where required.
“With the goodwill and cooperation of all stakeholders and building on the reforms to SDA we have recently announced, I believe these goals are realistic and achievable.”