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Aged Care Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is focused on improving the quality and safety aged care services. Our submission highlights the importance of mental health and wellbeing and the protection of human rights as necessary reforms for the aged care sector.

About the Royal Commission 

The Aged Care Royal Commission was established by the Commonwealth Government in October 2018.

The Interim Report: Neglect found the aged care system failed to meet the needs of older, vulnerable citizens, did not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, was unkind and uncaring towards older people, and, in too many instances, it neglected them.

Submissions closed on 30 April 2020.

The final report is due by 12 November 2020.

Our submission 

Our submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety calls for an aged care culture based on human rights principles, reframing the idea of consumers of aged care from “patients” to “rights-holders” to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect.

The submission notes the importance of the role of people with a lived experience to lead all stages of aged care reform.

Our recommendations for reform include:

  • Improve access to appropriate treatment and support through the introduction of mandatory screening for people in residential and community-based aged, care to detect mental illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder and early mental health problems.
  • Improve access to appropriate treatment by ensuring residents of aged-care facilities have equivalent access to mental health treatment plans as the general population.
  • Build the capacity of residential and community-based aged care environments to recognise and reduce suicide in older people through the introduction of strategies to assess suicide risk and promote early interventions.
  • Create an aged-care sector in which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ needs are met in a culturally safe way, delivered by a culturally capable workforce (preferably Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people). Wherever possible, services should be on Country and co-designed by communities, Elders and people with a lived experience.
  • Offer non-discriminatory aged-care services that are accepting of sexuality, sex and gender identity and can specifically address the mental health needs of LGBTI older people, including capability and competencies of workers strengthened through training in awareness and sensitivity to older LGBTI people’s needs.
  • Strengthen residential and community-based aged-care workforce competencies through training modules including mental health literacy (such as Mental Health First Aid) and anti-stigma and trauma-informed care.
  • Create priority accommodation and services to ensure younger people with a disability, including psychosocial disability and mental illness, are no longer living in residential aged care.
  • Introduce legislation to support the reduction and, where possible, elimination of the use of restraint and seclusion, and to ensure any restrictive practices are evidence- and rights-based and used only as a last resort, and with effective safeguards and oversight mechanisms.
  • Develop strategies to empower, enable and support people with a lived experience to lead all stages of reform of the aged-care sector.

COVID-19 and aged care

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased mental health challenges for people living in residential aged care and those planning to transition to aged-care facilities.

The Queensland Mental Health Commission welcomes the national code of conduct that supports visits in nursing homes without compromising the safety of residents. The code was co-developed with the aged-care sector and is accompanied by implementation support funding.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety is calling for submissions from the public and organisations relating to the effects of COVID-19 on the aged-care sector:

Submissions (from aged-care service recipients, families, supporters, service providers, those who work in aged care, and others) are due by 30 June 2020.