Australia’s aged care system has been described as “a shocking tale of neglect”, a system designed around “transactions and not relationships or care”, reveals the Royal Commission into Aged Care’s interim report.
“It is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation,” Commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs noted.
“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done.”
The interim report, titled Neglect, was tabled in the Australian Parliament on Thursday, and called for a “fundamental overhaul” of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of Australia’s aged care system.
Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck said the problems raised in the interim report had “challenged governments”.
“We are shocked by the stories that have arisen,” he said.
Aged care is a $20 billion-plus industry in Australia, and also one of the country's fastest growing sectors.
The extent of the failure, the commissioners note, includes the difficulty in access to aged care services, service shortfalls, a “dispiriting nature” of residential care, serious substandard care, an underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce, and isolation of young people with disabilities in aged care service.
The interim report found that the system is unable to cope with growing demand for home care services, calling for “immediate” and “significant additional funding” to increase access to Home Care Packages, with waiting times of up to 12 months or more and people dying while still on the waiting list.
The report also called for flexible and culturally-safe aged care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“This includes assessment pathways, aged care integrated with other services, and facilitating aged care on Country, where possible,” the report noted.
While the report does not include specific recommendations, the Royal Commission’s final report is scheduled to be handed to the Governor-General on 12 November 2020.
The final report is expected to set the framework for a complete overhaul of the aged care system — from system philosophy and design, to health and disability services, workforce, funding and regulation.
The report was completed at the end of September, by the late Richard Tracey, who passed away earlier this month, and commissioner Lynelle Briggs.