On 31 October, the royal commission into aged care released its interim report after ten months of investigation, revealing the insufficiencies of Australia’s aged care system and recommendations that spurred the government into action. But through all this jargon, what did the report actually say and what has the government done about it? Here are Healthcare HQ’s key points on what you need to know about the first results of the royal commission.
The interim report has called for the entire aged care system to be revamped in order to restructure its design, funding, distribution and regulation. With Australia’s ageing population, thousands of older citizens are falling through the cracks of this underfunded sector of the healthcare industry. Since the royal commission was announced, a disturbingly increasing number of stories have revealed the neglect and abuse within the system. These have features experiences of assault, name-calling, understaffing and inadequacies in basic necessities such as food and bathroom use. The royal commission has found that the most common concerns of the month are “neglect, dignity and governance”.
Following the interim report, the Australian government made announcements in late November regarding their next actions for the aged care system.
The government will be funding 10,000 new home care packages using almost $500 million to provide high levels of intensive care, better medication management by carers and dementia training for staff. While this is welcome news, it will only help a fraction of the people currently in the queue for aged care; approximately 120,000 are currently on the waiting list and records show that roughly 16,000 people passed away while waiting for aged care between 2017 and 2018.
The report further drew attention to the over-prescription of and reliance on sedative drugs and chemical restraints, which often meant that aged care patients were unresponsive to visitors and that failed to provide patients with the personal care they required. The government will spend $25 million on the improvement of medication management programs, including training staff.
Another focal point of the report recommended the prevention of younger people with disabilities being placed in aged care facilities. The report states that it remains largely unclear how these individuals are being forced into the aged care system, but the government has responded by dedicating $4.7 million to remove anyone under the age of 45 from aged care by 2022.
The final commission report will be released on 12 November 2020.
Written by: Melanie Wong