No one under 45 should live in aged care

Ahead of next week’s Federal Budget, the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Richard Colbeck, has announced an additional $10.6m of government funding. It’s not for older people, but instead to move younger people – particularly those under the age of 45 – out of aged care.

In a joint statement with the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Stuart Robert, Minister Colbeck announced an additional $10.6m to be included in the 2020-21 budget to assist younger people to find age-appropriate accommodation and support them to live locally in the community.

“The Morrison government is committed to ensuring no younger person needs to live in residential aged care,” says Minister Robert in the statement.

The Younger People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) Strategy, issued in March 2019 has been criticised by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. It was referred to as “modest” and without “ambition”. 

In response, the government announced another $4.7m toward the Strategy in November 2019 and updated its targets as follows:

  • No people under the age of 65 entering residential aged care by 2022;
  • No people under the age of 45 living in resident aged care by 2022;
  • No people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care by 2025.

These seem ambitious given that in the past 18 months, an additional 247 younger people entered aged care homes. This is down from 407, but remains high.

During that period, the number of people under the age of 45 living in an aged home decreased by only 37 people. From 167 to 130.

The new funding is designed to assist improvement in these numbers. 

“As part of the 2020-21 Budget, the government is establishing a national network of up to 40 system coordinators to directly help younger people living in, or at risk of entry to, residential aged care,” Senator Colbeck said.

“People who want to live on their own terms and with independence in the community will be supported to navigate Commonwealth and state and territory systems.

“System coordinators will work with younger people to move from residential aged care to age-appropriate accommodation and supports by 2025.” he said.

Younger people living in age care homes is an important issue that deserves government funding. Aged care homes, especially in their current form, are not designed for younger people. 

However we look forward to next week’s budget to better understand how the government will address the issues of the older people who live in aged care homes too.

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  1. There could be two reasons why young people, those under the age of 45 years, ought not be in residential aged care.

    First, because the care is so bad, and institutional care is so toxic, that we do not want to expose young people to it; and second, because young people ought not be surrounded by old people for some reason.

    If it is the first reason, then surely we ought not have old people or anyone young or old, in aged care either. If it is the second reason then another question might be, ‘what is it about old people that we do not want young people to be exposed to them’?

    We make these grand statements like “The Morrison government is committed to ensuring no younger person needs to live in residential aged care,” without asking ‘well, why? What is it about aged care that says its OK for over 65s but not for under 65s?

    Is this because everyone over 65 is old? Is it because everyone over 65 is exactly the same; has exactly the same needs, interests, outlook on life? So a 65 year old is no different to a 75, 85 or 95 year old? And once you hit 65 then you no longer are an individual, want your own independence, are in some way unique. Or valuable? You can now be ‘warehoused’ (Dr Brodaty’s terminology) in residential care.

    And some people hold out hope that the Royal Commission will change things.

    I don’t think so.

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