Focusing on the experiences of young people with disabilities in Aged care

When Catherine had an accident and was left with a permanent disability, she had no other option but to turn to residential aged care for support. After giving it much thought, she decided not to go for it. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), as of 1st July 2018, there were around 6000 young people with complex disabilities living in aged care. There being a lack of individualized approach towards young people with disabilities, it is a struggle to find suitable accommodation for young Australian citizens with disabilities.

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Why are young people with disability so much against shifting to Aged care?

As the RACF aged care is all about senior citizens, young people with disabilities who are below 65 can find it a different world. Even if, this seems like a last resort for young people with disabilities, this may cut them off from the wider community and may not receive the proper care that they require. Apart from that, there are many grounds on which young minds with physical or mental disability are often resistance to the idea of moving in to RACF aged care.

  • According to Mrs. Fiona May from ACT Disability, young people with disabilities are viewed as ‘bed-blockers’. The social workers face a lot of pressure from the hospital system to find alternative accommodation for young people with disabilities. In such a scenario, one might find nursing homes as the only option that may not have enough facilities and equipment to provide for and may not be an appropriate option for the young people.
  • NDIA was launched to provide support and social needs of people with disabilities in Australia from the ages of 0-65, but how many of them have been catered to is still a big question mark for many of us. The project is neither resourced nor designed to provide for accommodation for the young people who require 24-hour support. They don’t even outline any provision for young people who may require specialized clinical attention for a longer period of time. In this context, it seems young people may want to display control and choice according to their needs.
  • There is a lack of funding to get appropriate equipment that can support complex care needs, in young people with disabilities, in aged care. As aged care has not been created to serve intensive care, equipment, and facilities that are required by young people having disabilities. These aged cares are not adequately funded to do so, and it is because of this reason that the staff struggles to provide appropriate care that these people deserve.
  • The aged care support staff don’t have or are trained with essential skills to deal and take care of younger people with disabilities, especially Acquired brain injuries. Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s disease, and Multiple Sclerosis are such other disabilities for which the staff have no training.
  • For maintaining a young individual’s social, cognitive, and physical functioning therapeutic inputs are unavailable when it comes to aged care. They even lack rehabilitation orientation and resources that can cater to their rehabilitative potential.

Best way to overcome the challenges and barriers faced by young people with disabilities in RACF aged care

Like many reforms, this project has potential but may take some time to be polished and refined. Even though the Government has taken a few measures to ensure less young people with disabilities entering aged care, still a lot of work has to be done to build a concrete plan.

    • Awareness must be created among the healthcare sector and young people, regarding transition and accommodation options. Effective assessment tools such as Placement Instrument and Alberta Assessment to be utilized in the healthcare sector to ensure proper accommodation and support requirements in the long as well as short term.
    • Access to rehabilitation services in RACF and hospitals should be made a must. This will help young people having severe disabilities to get their confidence back.
    • Even though there are many norms in place in the favour of young people with disabilities but there is a need for proper legislative provisions under the Disability Services Act, to ensure that all service providers get services for which they are accountable.
    • A separate community for young people with disabilities should be established to allow them to develop and recover among people their own age. They should be included in NDIS to help them achieve the best possible support.
    • Supporting services in nursing homes for young people with disabilities may not be proper on the account of the Aged Care Act 1997. So, special provisions must be put in place for the same.
    • Special services should be provided for helping young people with disabilities in filing paper works, complaints, and legal formalities while leaving the aged care should be made easily available.
    • According to LASA (Leading Age Services Australia), there should be more focus on’ reablement’ rather than ‘rehabilitation’, which will help young people with disabilities to learn skills to help them with their daily routine. This way they can accommodate their illness and come up to their full potential. This is not possible in RACF aged care that is following the medical model to support senior citizens.
    The Council of Australian Government came up with The Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care in the year 2006. Since then it has continuously worked towards making life for young people with disabilities a lot easier. The National Framework definitely has numerous milestones yet to achieve in this field to make young people like Catherine lead a contended life even with their disability.

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    NDIS support coordination Melbourne


    NDIS Support coordination Melbourne

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