The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will hold two hearings in Sydney next week first, to inquire into the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in aged care and, secondly, to inquire into aged care accommodation.
Due to the pandemic, there will be no public access to the hearings, but the public can follow proceedings on the live webcast on the Royal Commission website. Witness lists for both hearings will be available on Sunday, August 9, 2020.
The COVID-19 hearing will begin at 10am local time on Monday, August 10, and will inquire into the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in aged care, and the lessons that can be learnt for responding to the ongoing and any future pandemics, infectious disease outbreaks or other emergencies.
Witnesses will be called to give evidence about the preparedness of the aged care sector for such an outbreak of disease, restrictions on visitation, and the impact of those restrictions on the health and wellbeing of residents and their families.
Commissioners will hear from two witnesses whose fathers died during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virginia Clarke, whose father died after contracting COVID-19 at Newmarch House, will give evidence about her experience. Another witness, who will appear under the pseudonym UY, will speak about her father's confusion and sadness when restrictions on family visitation were introduced, and how she believes he gave up wanting to live because his family support and connection was lost.
Merle Mitchell will tell Commissioners about her experience living in an aged care facility in Melbourne during the pandemic. The hearing will also explore the impact of the pandemic on the provision of services to those living in residential aged care, and the impact this has had on their quality of life.
This hearing will conclude with a panel of witnesses from the Australian Department of Health and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. A central issue that will be explored is whether there was a lack of clarity of the roles of the authorities in responding to COVID-19 outbreaks in aged care.
The two-day hearing on accommodation will begin at 3:10pm on Thursday, August 13, 2020. The Royal Commissioners will hear evidence about innovative accommodation models that promote ageing in place and access to aged care services, as well as about design principles and building standards for residential aged care, including 'small home' models and dementia-friendly design.