In a witness statement to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Safety and Quality in Melbourne today, Youngcare has outlined the issues the sector faces in creating more appropriate living arrangements for young people with high care needs.
Youngcare was the first organisation to call attention to the issue of young people, under 65, being left behind in inappropriate and unacceptable housing such as aged care when the national not-for-profit was formed in 2005.
Representing Youngcare on a panel with Summer Foundation and Nursing Homes Alliance, Youngcare Connect Manager Shane Jamieson said in general terms, Youngcare does not consider aged care as appropriate housing for people under 65.
“Residing in a facility where the average age is 83 for a younger person often proves disempowering and has significant impacts on their overall wellbeing. Younger people have very different needs appropriate to their age, disability, goals and aspirations — aged care is not set up to meet those needs,” he said.
Youngcare acknowledges there are unique circumstances in which aged care could be suitable if combined with adequate support services.
“For those living in remote and rural communities who need support for their daily living needs, in many cases, the local aged care facility can be their only option. There are circumstances where this does work, however there needs to be adequate resources,” he said.
“In any circumstances where a younger person finds themselves living in aged care — for however long — the aged care system must be combined with the right support services, either provided by the aged care provider itself, or external service providers.”
Youngcare has been working closely with young people with high care needs as they navigate their support options, and spoke about the current limitations of the NDIS and SDA and being part of change needed.
“Despite the NDIS providing young people with high care needs the funding needed for care and accommodation, there is still a shortfall of nearly 16,000 suitable accessible dwellings across the country,” Mr Jamieson said.
“While Youngcare is working with developers and investors to provide 50 new appropriate high-care housing options over the next 12 months, the time and resources to build at scale are significant, and the access to alternative housing stock is limited even for individuals who can access their funding.
“It is imperative that SDA providers and investors get it right, especially when it comes to the design and accessibility of the physical space.”
Youngcare has developed best-practice building design alongside Griffith University to meet the unique care and lifestyle needs of young people with disabilities.
The organisation also recognised NDIS support coordinators require better training and accountability to provide services that achieve the desired outcomes for NDIS participants, including those who are seeking a move into SDA.
“It is our hope that this Commission will take all of the evidence into consideration, so that together, we can begin to implement better pathways and interfaces for younger people with disabilities, so that they do not have to call aged care home.”