The Royal Commission and COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has suspended all hearings and workshops. This is subject to review, but affects all hearings and workshops scheduled until at least the end of May 2020. The Royal Commission has extended its submission deadline. Submissions will now close on 30 June 2020.
If you have concerns about any aged care services you or someone you know is receiving, try to resolve the issue directly with the provider. If you’re unhappy with their response, you can make a complaint directly to the Royal Commission. You can lodge a complaint online or in writing, or by phoning 1800 951 822.
Commission release interim report: Neglect
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.
Entitled Neglect, the interim report found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required. The Interim Report sets out the extent of the failure of Australia’s aged care services and what the Royal Commission has learned to date.
In the report Commissioners the late Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs describe the many problems that older people and their families have in trying to get access to aged care services, service shortfalls, the dispiriting nature of residential care, serious substandard care and unsafe practice, an underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce, and isolation of young people with disabilities.
The Commissioners identified three areas where immediate action can be taken:
- to provide more Home Care Packages to reduce the waiting list for higher level care at home
- to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care
- to stop the flow of younger people with a disability going into aged care, and speed up the process of getting out those young people who are already in aged care.
Tabled in the Australian Parliament on 31 October, the Interim Report is in three volumes and is available on the Royal Commission’s website along with an extract from the foreword, ‘A Shocking Tale of Neglect’. It covers much, but not all, of the work of the Royal Commission through to September 2019. Most of the Royal Commission’s work on quality and safety considerations will be in the Final Report due to be completed on 12 November 2020.
COTA Australia welcomes reality check
COTA Australia has welcomed the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report. It confirms that neglect, abuse and poor care are more widespread than governments and many providers have been prepared to accept, but which COTA has called out over many years.
COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates welcomed the acknowledgement from the Commission that older Australians are neglected. This occurs within the aged care system which supports around 1.3 million older Australians each year, and also in the negative attitudes towards older people within the broader community.
“COTA agrees with the Royal Commission that older Australians should be more valued by the wider community. It’s not just about loving your grandparents, Australians need to also reach out as a community and support their elderly neighbours and fellow citizens, many of whom are still waiting to receive care they’ve been assessed as needing and won’t even be in the formal care system,” Mr Yates said. For further comment go to COTA Australia’s media release.
So you want to know more about the Royal Commission into Aged Care?
A royal commission is the highest level of public inquiry in Australia. Its main functions are to investigate an issue, produce a report and make recommendations to government. This work is informed by extensive input from members of the community, who are invited to share their concerns about the matter/s being investigated.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established by the Federal Government in 2018 in response to growing concerns about the quality of aged care in Australia.
What have we heard from older people about aged care services in Victoria?
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 nine information sessions, mostly in partnership with seniors’ groups and councils and listened to almost 300 consumers, carers and family members share 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 has collated feedback from nine consumer sessions hosted across the state to contribute to COTA Australia’s submission. To read more, go to: What we want in aged care.
If you are interested in hosting an information session in your area contact COTA on phone (03) 9655 2140 or email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What will this Royal Commission consider?
The Royal Commission will explore issues relating to care that is provided in residential settings as well as care that is provided in the home. The exact issues to be considered are set out in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety’s Terms Of Reference.
The Royal Commission is interested in events that have taken place since 1 July, 2013, or issues that are still of relevance now.
The Royal Commission does not have the power to:
- resolve individual complaints
- award compensation
- order another party, such as an aged care provider, to take action
- make criminal charges against individuals or providers, although criminal proceedings can follow from a royal commission’s findings.
Telling your story to the Royal Commission
If you or someone you know has concerns about the quality of aged care, this Royal Commission needs to hear your story. Stories and personal accounts that are provided to the Royal Commission are called “submissions”.
It is not too late to tell your story. The Royal Commission will continue to accept submissions until the end of June 2020. There is no right or wrong way to tell your story. You can:
- Use our Submission Template, (COTA Victoria has modified this from the Royal Commission template available on their website.)
- Set out your submission as a Standard Letter.
- Set out your submission as a list of numbered or bulleted points. You can access a sample submission that has been written in this format here.
- Complete your submission through the online or downloadable form on the Royal Commission website.
- Phone the Royal Commission information line on 1800 960 711 and provide your story verbally. The person you speak with can help you put it into writing, or organise an interpreter service.
When writing your submission, consider including:
- Information about yourself and the type of age care of concern.
- Information about the circumstances that led you to access aged care services.
- Information about the most critical events, either good or bad, that you would like the Royal Commission to know about. Try to think about the key message you’d like to tell the Royal Commission.
- Information about how any problems you’ve experienced in aged care could have been avoided or how the aged care system could be improved.
If you provide your contact details when making your submission, the Royal Commission might get in touch with you to gather additional information about your experience. A small number of people who tell their stories to the royal commission will be asked to give evidence at a public hearing. This was the experience of COTA Victoria’s staunch aged care advocate, Merle Mitchell, who gave evidence at a public hearing in Sydney in May. The Sydney public hearings aimed to provide insights into the residential aged care system and Merle had quite a lot to say! To hear the witness statement Merle gave via video link from her nursing home, go to the royal commission audio recording from Monday 6 May.
Contacting the Royal Commission
You can contact the Royal Commission in any of the following ways:
Phone: 1800 960 711
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
GPO Box 1151,
Adelaide SA 5001