Reflecting on ‘Neglect’ In Australia’s Aged Care

At the end of October 2019 the Royal Commission released the Aged Care Quality and Safety’s Interim Report titled ‘Neglect’. As the title would suggest, the report revealed dreadful facts about the current Aged Care system in Australia.

At Newcastle and Hunter Community Health, we pride ourselves on providing a service that caters to the needs of everyone. However, this is not necessarily reflected throughout the entire Aged Care system. This is especially difficult, when the funds are simply not there.

The reality of a lack of funds and resources became apparent in this report. This has long been an issue for health care services, but predominantly for patients who wish to seek health care support in the comfort of their home. 

The Royal Commission “Neglect” report revealed three major areas for reform, these included; 

  • Home Care Packages,
  • Youth in Aged Care and
  • Poor treatment and pharmaceutical abuse in Aged Care. 

So, how do we fix a broken system?

This is the question many people are wondering. For families wanting to seek help for loved ones, or for those wanting to receive health care for themselves, the process needs to become easier.

Having a system that is functional, easy to navigate and understand is key. What the report revealed was that through My Aged Care people tended to become uncertain and confused as to whether they were going to receive the support they needed.

“Sadly, this failure to properly value and engage with older people as equal partners in our future has extended to our apparent indifference towards aged care services.” (‘Neglect’ Report)

The team at NHCH understand how important it is to have an honest and open conversation about your health. Our clients and patients are our main priority and communicating openly about their needs is important.

Promoting a system that encourages better communication is something we hope the Government can deliver, so people can be properly directed to a service such as ours.

Home Care Packages

One of the major areas of reform noted in the Royal Commission report, and one that is particularly relevant to us, was regarding Home Care packages.

As it currently stands, the process to receive a Home Care package is slow and inhibits a lot of people who require health care at home to receive the support they need. 

Managing Director of NHCH, Alison McQueen, said that despite being able to offer Home Care Packages, the limited funding and eligibility process limits availability for patients.

“With the preference for Aged Care services to be delivered at home, there is need for more funding and a better health assessment eligibility process. As the report revealed, we need to focus on making sure those who require health support at home are receiving it,” she said.

The changes outlined in the report to make a difference in this area start with care models, investment in new expertise, reconsideration of funding models and a stronger, closer interface with the acute health care sector.

“Our team can only hope that with further funding and proper assessments that the right care can be delivered timely and as needed for patients,” Alison said.

The issue with younger people in Aged Care

Over the 2017–18 financial year, over 2,000 young patients entered residential Aged Care. That figure equates to 42 younger people, on average, entering residential aged care every week. 

What the report further revealed was that there is a lack of transparency about the reasons why these younger people were being admitted into aged care. With an ageing population looking to receive residential Aged Care, this becomes a problematic issue. 

The problems are further heightened when residential Aged Care facilities are unable to cater to the complex needs of young people being admitted. 

According to the report, many young patients admitted feeling isolated and frustrated by this system and expressed their need to live more independently. 

“Reducing the number of younger people in residential aged care requires a coordinated, collaborative response.  It also requires a focus on the drivers of admission to aged care, as well as a firm commitment to ensure that those currently in aged care can leave.” (‘Neglect’ Report)

At NHCH we have supported many young people with complex needs and assisted them in their homes to give them a sense of independence. 

“We hope that with further revisions to the current NDIS scheme and large-scale building programs to meet the shortfall in Specialist Disability Accommodation that more people can receive our care and make room for the ageing population in residential aged care facilities,” Alison said.

The future of Aged Care in Australia

Whilst the Royal Commission report revealed some grim statistics and issues with the current Aged Care system, we remain optimistic that more can be done to eliminate these issues of neglect.

Our team are dedicated to remaining transparent with our clients and patients, so that we are a service you can rely on and trust for your health care needs.

Having access to care, such as ours, shouldn’t be at your expense and we hope the Government see this report as an opportunity to put the health care of Australians first.

For a comprehensive look into the findings of the Royal Commission report, click here.

If you wish to talk to a health care service that put your health care needs first, get in touch with our friendly team today.