Following the release of the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report, the Government has responded to the issue of younger people with disability permanently living in aged care homes, by strengthening targets in the Younger People in Residential Aged Care Action Plan.
Of the $537 million investment into the aged care sector focused on three priority areas, around $4.7 million will be put towards helping place young people with disability in more appropriate housing accommodation than residential aged care.
New targets should ensure that by 2022, no people under the age of 65 will enter residential aged care and no people under the age of 45 will be living in residential aged care.
Additionally, the Government aim to have no person under the age of 65 living in residential aged care by 2025.
The $4.7 million will also go towards establishing a Joint Agency Task Force (JATF) to develop and build on the action plan, and establish a specialist team within the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to prevent younger people with disability, who are eligible for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), from entering aged care.
The Government intends to continue working within the industry to support Specialist Disability Accommodation and Supported Independent Living and develop a database for people to use, and undertake an analysis of younger people currently in aged care to inform new policies and pathways to find alternate accommodation.
The Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance (YPINH) Director, Dr Bronwyn Morkham, welcomes the acceptance of the Royal Commission targets, however, she says the $4.7 million provided to help take younger people with disability out of nursing homes is not enough.
While Dr Morkham can’t give an exact dollar figure on what would fix the problem, she says the $4.7 million divided between the 6,000 young people currently living in nursing homes and the 2,000 young people entering residential aged care every year, equates to about $800 a person.
“That is clearly, utterly inadequate. If we are going to reach each one of those people, and we need to sit down with them to ask what they need and what they want and to develop that, it is going to take some intensive efforts. We are talking considerable amounts of money,” says Dr Morkham.
“We need significant funding to be made available immediately, if we are going to achieve these targets. This is a bold move by the Government. If we are going to achieve those targets, we have to act, and act now.”
“The $4.7 million announced by the Prime Minister yesterday is not enough at all. We stand ready to work with the Government.”
Dr Morkham supports the Government for taking on the targets, but says there are still more changes necessary to help all young people with disability in residential aged care or about to go into residential aged care.
“We are very very pleased. We have been urging the Government to set those targets. We proposed nobody going in by 2022 and endorsed the calls by Dr Ben Gauntlett, the Disability Discrimination Commissioner, to have everybody out, that wants to move out, by 2025,” says Dr Morkham.
“One thing we are not happy about though and we don’t agree with, is the target that says all younger people under 45 should be out by 2022.
“If people want to move out, this should not be according to how old you are. If you have an urgency to move out or the opportunity to move, you should be able to do that regardless of your age.”
YPINH also wants to see the Government instigate their Independent Worker Model strategy, endorsed by the Royal Commission, where independent workers will work with each young person in a nursing home to develop an exit strategy.
People with Disability Australia (PWDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jeff Smith, says they are pleased to see the announcement from the Australian Government as a “down payment on real reform to stop abuse of older people and getting young people out of aged care.”
“$4.7m is a good start, but far more is needed, across a range of policy areas to make sure that younger people with disability aren’t going into aged care, and instead can live in the community alongside their non-disabled peers,” says Mr Smith.
“The target of no more young people under 45 years entering aged care by 2022 is a step in the right direction but we have known about the issue of young people with disability living in aged care for many years.
“There are real questions why any young person would be entering aged care now that we have full implementation of the NDIS. We would like to see a concerted effort from the Commonwealth, States and Territories to meet this target well before 2022.
“We urge the Australian Government to invest far more in housing reforms to make sure all people with disability can have an accessible, affordable home with the supports they need.”