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‘Brutal’ life for young in aged care homes

Megan Neil


Younger people should not be forced into a “brutal and wasted life” in nursing homes because they have nowhere else to go, a royal commission has been told.

Advocates say long-overdue systemic changes are needed to address the problem of people aged under-65 with complex disability support needs who end up in residential aged care.

“Young people shouldn’t be in a nursing home,” said a 38-year-old man quoted in advocacy group the Summer Foundation’s submission to the aged care royal commission.

“It’s a wasted life. I wasted eight years and achieved nothing.

“It was brutal and so unfair.”

A number of younger people who are living, or have lived, in aged care facilities will share their experiences with the royal commission during a hearing in Melbourne this week.

About 6000 people aged under-65 are living in residential aged care facilities in Australia.

Some were admitted to aged care in their 20s and 30s, and were living with people in their 80s, the Summer Foundation said.

Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance director Bronwyn Morkham said aged care facilities were established to look after older people in the end stages of life and were not tailored to meet the particular needs of younger people with disability.

“These are young people who want to get on with their lives and regain their lives and move back into the community to continue their lives with the support they need,” she told AAP.

Summer Foundation CEO Luke Bo’sher said there had been very little reduction in the number of younger people going into aged care over the past decade.

He said the royal commission presented an opportunity to solve the issue once and for all.

“Our view is that we should be able as a society to create alternatives for just about everybody that’s currently going into aged care,” Mr Bo’sher told AAP.

“It will really be only in exceptional circumstances that aged care might still be the only viable option for people.”

The advocacy groups hope the royal commission will come up with measures to prevent younger people entering residential aged care and find options for those who want to move out.

The inquiry will examine whether a federal government action plan announced in March can succeed in reducing the number of younger people living in aged care facilities.

The advocates said the key problem was a lack of suitable housing and support options, including appropriate complex health supports.

Dr Morkham said the National Disability Insurance Scheme provided the supports and funding for services, but there was nowhere for people to go.

She said most younger people entered residential aged care on discharge from hospital, because interim accommodation options were not available.

“We want to see that limited to six months maximum, and during that time we want a key worker assigned to each young person to develop an exit strategy.”

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