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Aged Care Royal Commission Update – July

Written by Ilsa Bird – Sector Support Coordinator

July Hearing

During July, the Royal Commission into Aged Care hearings resumed with no public access. The first hearing was held in Melbourne between 15-17 July to inquire into how mental health, oral health and allied health care could be improved for people accessing aged care services.

Key areas considered included:

  • increased funding and/or alternative funding models
  • incentives for health care professionals to provide services at an individual’s place of residence
  • increased training for aged care workers
  • clarifying responsibilities of approved providers and implementing performance measures or performance indicators

On the final day of the Hearing Mr Richard Knowles, Counsel Assisting, summed up aged care recipients’ access to mental health care, oral health care and allied health care. Drawing on evidence throughout the hearing, Mr Knowles stated that “the aged care system is clearly not designed with a focus on re-ablement and rehabilitation” and that “allied health practitioners try to make a person’s needs fit into a funding stream, rather than making the services fit the person’s need”. Mr Knowles suggested that fundamental change needs to occur including:

  • improved access to mental, oral and allied health, particularly for those on high-level home care packages
  • a move away from reactive treatment towards preventative care models
  • enhanced holistic care delivered by multidisciplinary teams encompassing emotional wellbeing and oral care
  • improved interaction and collaboration between the aged care system and the mental, oral and allied health care systems

The full transcript for this hearing can be accessed here.

August Hearings

During August, two hearings will take place in Sydney. Both hearings will be closed to the public however, a live webcast can be accessed here.

The first hearing will run from Monday 10 August to Thursday 13 August and will inquire into the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in aged care. This will include consideration of:

  • the role and responsibilities of State, Territory and Federal governments in responding to such crises in aged care services
  • what should be done and by whom in the future to support the aged care sector to respond to pandemics, infectious disease outbreaks or other emergencies
  • the balance between managing risks posed by a future pandemic or infectious disease outbreak and maintaining the overall health and wellbeing of aged care recipients including their mental health and quality of life
  • the measures taken by the health and aged care sectors to respond to the pandemic including transporting infected residents to hospital
  • the impact of those measures on older Australians receiving aged care services, their families and their carers
  • challenges faced by the aged care sector including those relating to management, workforce and access to personal protective equipment
  • any other related matters.

The second hearing will be held from Thursday 13 August to Friday 14 August and will focus on aged care accommodation to consider the following:

  • appropriate building and design standards for aged care delivery
  • physical design and models of residential aged care, including ‘small home models’ and dementia-friendly design
  • access to secure housing for aged care delivery
  • incentivising movement to alternative accommodation for the provision of aged care services
  • innovative accommodation models for ageing in place and interaction with aged care supports.

Latest Research Papers

New research by Flinders University conducted for the Royal Commission shows that Australians strongly support increased funding to ensure universal access to high-quality aged care services in the future.  The research is based on a survey of 10,000 adults not currently using aged care services and the findings are presented in Research Paper 6 – Australia’s aged care system: assessing the views and preferences of the general public for quality of care and future funding.

Download Research Paper 6 here.

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