Care for Young People with Disability
Right now, there are more than 7,000 young Australians living in aged care - simply because there are very limited alternatives (National Disability Agreement 2011-12). In addition, a further 700,000 are being cared for at home by family and friends, often with limited support (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011).
Being young is about having a lifetime ahead of you, yet aged care is designed for someone who is at the end of their life. The realities of aged care mean a young person will share a residence where the average age is 83 and the average life expectancy is just three years (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011). More importantly, in most cases, their specific care needs will not be met and differ greatly to those of the elderly residents.
For those young people living in aged care, statistics suggest that:
- 44% will receive a visit from friends less than once a year
- 34% will almost never participate in community based activities such as shopping
- 21% will go outside the home less than once a month
(Di Winkler et al Winkler, D., L. Farnworth, et al. (2006). Australian Health Review)
Countless other studies have demonstrated increased incidences of depression brought about by the social isolation. On top of such sobering facts, it is important to recognise that the family of a young person with 24/7 care needs also endures daily struggles.
Counsellors have advised that 70% of all relationships involving the care of a young person with full-time care needs will end in divorce and this in fact is where the greatest impact is felt. In many cases it is not just the individual requiring care that is in crisis. It is the family and those around them under greatest pressure and strain, with further statistics revealing that:
- 56% of carers are defined as moderately depressed
- 40% of carers are found to be severely or extremely depressed
- Carers have the lowest level of wellbeing of any group in society
(Dr Robert Cummings The Wellbeing of Australians – Carer Health and Wellbeing 2007)
The issues faced by young people with 24/7 care needs, their families and carers are broad and complex and there are many people in desperate need of assistance. Youngcare believes that there is an urgent need to raise awareness of this national issue to drive change and create real choices in care options for young Australians with full-time care needs.