We need better aged care for all
24 Sep 2019
Everyone deserves to age safely, with choice and control in their care. Case studies in our submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care show this is not what ageing looks like for many older Australians—in particular, those at risk of or experiencing elder abuse, isolation and discrimination.
Elder abuse and inadequate future planning challenge the delivery of aged care services. These problems cause financial and housing insecurity, damage relationships and impact health and wellbeing. With shortages in appropriate public supports and failures in other sectors, often the only option for our clients is early admission to a publicly-funded hospital or residential aged care—with limited choice.
Older peoples’ wealth is increasingly used to support the growth in aged care. Over time, this care is also more likely to be provided in their home. Elder abuse and economic insecurity of older Australians undermines the aims of the retirement income system, erodes the capacity of the aged care sector to meet future need, and further compounds growing inequality.
Older people experiencing isolation, abuse or discrimination are also more likely to have limited choice and control in relation to their aged care. Our case studies show how laws and systems leave out at-risk older people:
- We have observed service providers and professional decision-makers preferencing aged care that keeps the older person safe—at times, early admission to residential aged care—against the person’s wishes.
- For some older people, the engagement of families and carers can increase their chances of experiencing abuse and discrimination; and can work against the provision of person-centred services.
- For LGBTI elders, not only is there a risk of abuse by someone close to them, but also discrimination by service providers.
We can’t have a high-quality and safe aged care system without addressing the barriers to access, affordability, control and choice for the most at risk in our community. In its review of the aged care system, the Australian Government must consider these older Australians, and address:
- Drivers and impacts of elder abuse (our submission focuses on elder financial abuse)
- The lack of future planning by older Australians and their families
- Laws that limit the control and choice of at-risk older Australians ageing alone, experiencing abuse or at risk of discrimination.