Royal Commission hearings – “There should be a far more urgent effort to prioritise home care” – delays are inhumane

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The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety resumed in Sydney, with Senior Counsel Assisting Peter Gray QC leading calls for home care to be prioritised over residential aged care.

The Senior Counsel Assisting argued the majority of Australians would prefer to age in their own homes and would also be much cheaper to achieve.

“There should be a far more urgent effort to prioritise home care over residential care,” Mr Gray said.

“This is not to disparage residential care. There will always be a place for high quality residential care. But, as the research indicates, it is not generally the setting a person would choose.”

“The current COVID-19 pandemic is likely to reinforce people’s general preference to age in place at home and do all they can to avoid admission to residential aged care,” he said.

The Commission heard Australia has the highest proportion (19 per cent) of people aged 80 or over in residential aged care in the developed world, and the second highest proportion (6 per cent) of people aged 65 or over in residential aged care.

Mr Gray also noted more than 100,000 people have been assessed for home care packages that are yet to have been provided.

“If people don’t get the home care they need, they deteriorate, their quality of life is diminished, they will be more likely to have to go hospital, and they are more likely to lose their capacity for independent living and enter residential care,” Mr Gray said.

“Thus the current delays and failures to provide assessed care are not only inhumane, but have obvious and serious systemic consequences that are damaging to the aged care system, the healthcare system and the government’s Budget.”

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