Younger people with disability living in aged care a serious issue

Posted 1 year ago by Nicole Pope

According to the report, there are approximately 6,200 people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care across the country [Source: Shutterstock]
According to the report, there are approximately 6,200 people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care across the country [Source: Shutterstock]

The issue of younger people with disability living in residential aged care homes has been brought to light, following a newly released report.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Report Card for June 2018 released by the Summer Foundation is the second report of its kind, with the latest highlighting the six most important outcomes for the NDIS to achieve for young people, with the top priority to reduce the numbers living in residential aged care.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Summer Foundation, Luke Bo’sher says the report exists to initiate positive change.

“Younger people shouldn’t be living in aged care, so the six outcomes measure the extent to which the NDIS is effectively reducing the number of younger people being admitted to aged care and improving the lives of younger people already living in aged care, by facilitating their move into more appropriate housing,” he explains.

Mr Bo’sher says living in residential aged care is incredibly detrimental for a younger person with disability.

“It reduces their independence and limits their ability to reach their potential. It is also socially isolating: 82 percent of younger people in residential aged care rarely or never visit their friends and around 13 percent never go outside.”

“This is a complex issue that occurs when younger people’s needs aren’t met by the disability, housing and health systems. We know that all three of these systems need to work well for a person with a complex disability to live a good life in the community,” he says.

“The gaps in disability are being fixed through the NDIS… the biggest challenge at the moment are the gaps in affordable and accessible housing [and] our biggest focus needs to be on generating more housing solutions.”

The Summer Foundation’s June 2018 report details the impact the NDIS is currently having with subsequent reports to measure changes over time.

“This report card identifies that more than one in 20 younger people in residential aged care who have applied for NDIS funding have been deemed ineligible, pointing to a critical gap between the health and disability sectors that these younger people are falling through.

The NDIS Report Card also highlights six important outcomes for the NDIS to achieve for younger people living in residential aged care.

“We believe that the solution to the issue of young people living in residential aged care has four interrelated parts.”

The four areas working towards a solution include an increase in range and scale of accessible housing, effective NDIS plans to achieve independent living, improving the interface between the NDIS, health and aged care gateways and proactive community and primary health services.

According to the report, there are approximately 6,200 people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care across the country.

It also highlighted that between the 2014 and 2017 financial years, as the NDIS was trialled in the ACT, Barwon and Hunter regions, the number of admissions of younger people to residential aged care across these sites fell by 5 percent. Although a decrease, this is a slow movement towards getting young people with disability into more age-appropriate housing.

Importantly, approximately 996 specialist disability accommodation places are currently under construction across Australia.

Dr Bronwyn Morkham, National Director of Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance says the aged care system was never designed to care for young people with disabilities and change starts with creating alternative accessible housing options.

“We have to ask these young people what they want. We had hoped the NDIS would make a difference here but unfortunately it has caused a lot of problems for this group.”

She says as the NDIS won’t provide support for those already being cared for by the aged care sector, they are effectively discriminating against these young people in nursing homes.

Dr Morkham describes young people in residential aged care as ‘certainly not ideal’, with the young people being faced with obvious generational differences, death and dying and limited social and community participation.

She says it's time the NDIS fulfilled its obligations.

“We don’t have the services these people need to live safely and maintain their health and wellbeing within the community. We need to do a lot more work with local councils in building accessible for people with disability and ageing in their community. And we need to look further than the disability sector to solve this problem.”

For more information on disability support and services, please visit DisabilitySupportGuide.com.au

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