AUSTRALIA'S aged care system is failing to meet the needs of its older, vulnerable citizens.
This is the finding of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which has today released its damning Interim Report, describing the aged care system as a "shocking tale of neglect".
Commissioners Richard Trace and Lynelle Briggs' investigation into Australia's aged care system found the aged care system does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.
"The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation," they write in the report.
Entitled Neglect, the Interim Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which was tabled in the Australian Parliament on Thursday, found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required.
The Interim Report sets out the extent of the failure of Australia's aged care services and what the Royal Commission has learned to date.
Commissioners describe the many problems that older people and their families have in trying to get access to aged care services, service shortfalls, the dispiriting nature of residential care, serious substandard care and unsafe practice, an underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce, and isolation of young people with disabilities.
Commissioners identified three areas where immediate action can be taken:
- To provide more Home Care Packages to reduce the waiting list for higher level care at home
- To respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care, including through the seventh Community Pharmacy Agreement .
- To stop the flow of younger people with a disability going into aged care, and speed up the process of getting out those young people who are already in aged care.
The report also states: "The aged care system should not be a signifier for loss, abandonment and fear," and said the Royal Commission will over the next 12 months examine whether there are societal barriers to the enthusiastic acceptance of reforms to aged care.
It also found that the My Aged Care website and call centre, "the 'front door' to our aged care system" has has proved costly and has failed to provide adequate information to people about aged care and how to access it.
"The system could be improved to provide users with information to compare quality, safety and cost of services in their area, to find help, and to find accurate information about waiting lists," it says.
On home care waiting lists, the Interim Report found the aged care system is unable to deal with the level of demand for home care services and calls for more funding to increase access to home care packages."
'People are dying'
"Waiting times of up to 12 months or more for high care Level 4 Home Care Packages are unacceptable. People are dying on the waiting list. The Royal Commission believes that significant additional funding is needed immediately and in the future to increase access to Home Care Packages."
The Royal Commission will continue to examine workforce issues over the next year, including: attraction and retention; education and training; choosing the right staff; remuneration and careers; continuity of care; staffing levels and staff mix; and leadership.
The Interim Report provides an insight into the Commissioners' thinking to date, but does not include specific recommendations.
It covers much, but not all, of the work of the Royal Commission through to September 2019.
Most of the Royal Commission's work on quality and safety considerations will be in the Final Report, released in November 2020.
The Interim Report is available HERE.
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