COTA Victoria has been travelling around the state to encourage older people to make a submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. So far, we’ve hosted eight information sessions, mostly in partnership with seniors’ groups and councils. We’ve listened as more than 200 consumers, carers and family members – including regional Victorians, people with disability and people from culturally diverse communities – shared snippets of their stories. The goal of the sessions is to empower older people with the know-how and confidence to write their own submission or help someone else write one.
Across all the sessions, a number of themes are recurring, among them:
- how older people are disempowered in places run like institutions
- ageism from family, staff and society
- system failures such as the quality and cost of care, wait lists, inadequate staffing and poorly-constructed aged care packages
- transport issues and costs that leave people isolated
- challenges for people when English is their second language and their different cultural needs are not met
- differences in education and experience of life that are not understood or supported
- difficulties for older people with disability, particularly the disconnect between the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the aged care system.
COTA Victoria CEO, Ronda Held, facilitated recent sessions in Ballarat and Warrnambool and says that older people are very vocal about the need for change. ‘We know there’s a need to fix many systemic issues in the aged care system, with the older people we are meeting bringing the human stories that illustrate what is not working. This is not the experience of ageing we deserve or want. The time to fix this is now,’ Ms Held said.
Ms Held said older people had many suggestions for improvements, and that these will become part of COTA Victoria’s submission to the Royal Commission. ‘Ageing and entering the system, particularly aged care, is feared by many older people. This has been a commonality and it shouldn’t be,’ she said.
Visit COTA Victoria’s Royal Commission page for information and resources on writing your own submission.