More Age Appropriate Accommodation Needed -Report
10 July 2012 at 11:05 am
Not for Profit research funded by the Victorian Government says that without continued investment, a new group of young people with high support needs will again be entering inappropriate aged care facilities.
The new research found that young people with disabilities live more enriched lives when provided with age-appropriate accommodation in the community, rather than being forced to live in nursing homes.
Released by the Victorian government, a study led by the Summer Foundation, in conjunction with Monash University, found alternative accommodation and support options provided by the five year $60 million Victorian Younger People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) initiative significantly improved the lives of young people with disabilities who otherwise would be forced to live in aged care.
The program was set up provide better living options for young people with disabilities living in, or at risk of entry to, residential aged care (RAC).
The research found those who moved out of nursing homes through the YPIRAC program experienced improved quality of life when provided with supported accommodation in their local communities. They were provided with greater opportunities to make everyday choices and were able to access their community more regularly.
Libby Callaway from the University’s Department of Occupational Therapy said the research highlighted the improved health, social and community integration benefits for those who moved to age-appropriate accommodation. These findings were further highlighted within interviews with family members of the young person.
“We found those who were living in a more home-like environment were able to increase their independence in a range of personal and domestic tasks, participate in community activities, and experience basic everyday choices that most people take for granted, including the timing of their meals or when the person would like to go to bed,” Callaway said.
Co-researcher and Summer Foundation CEO Dr Di Winkler said the study highlighted the need for governments, disability services, health and aged care services to work together to programs that would prevent new admissions of young people into RAC.
“More accommodation services must be built and we need services that prevent nursing home admissions and create pathways back to community living otherwise 200 people under 50 will still be admitted to nursing homes each year in Australia,” Dr Winkler said.
In 2006, the Council of Australian Governments funded a five-year, $244 million Younger People with Disability in Residential Aged Care initiative. The program helped around 250 people to move out of aged care and a further 244 to avoid being admitted in the first place. Those assisted reported marked improvements in their quality of life, as well as opportunities to make everyday choices and participate in community activities.
The Victorian YPIRAC initiative, part of a national initiative across all states and territories of Australia ended in June 2011. The five year program saw a 40 per cent reduction of people aged under 50 living in Victorian nursing homes.
“But since this program ceased mid last year, the system has largely begun reverting to past practices. Younger people are again being placed in nursing homes, with more than 200 young people at risk of admission to aged care in Australia each year,” researcher Libby Callaway said.
“So, without continued investment, a new group of young people with high support needs will again be entering RAC.
“The issue of young people in nursing homes is one clear reason we need the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The $1bn announced in the federal budget to trial the NDIS over the next four years will provide the funding for disability supports this group requires to live in the community. But the NDIS is not a silver bullet.”
The researchers said that the evaluation provided clear direction to inform the Department of Human Services (DHS) regarding future decision making and service responses for the target population of the Victorian YIPRAC initiative and are also highly relevant to the implementation of a proposed NDIS.
There are eight key recommendations stemming from this evaluation.
- Disability services, health and aged care services to continue to collaborate to develop the services and systemic change required to create pathways back to community living and prevent new admissions of young people to RAC.
- Increase the range and number of alternatives to young people with high and complex care needs living in or at risk of admission to RAC.
- Proactive intervention to reduce the lifetime care costs of younger people with complex care needs by providing the services required to reduce secondary health conditions and maximise independence.
- Provide young people living in RAC with timely access to skilled prescription, training and funding for customised equipment and its maintenance.
- Provide dedicated resources and skilled, flexible support to maximise the autonomy and home and community integration of people with high care and complex needs.
- Develop a disability workforce that has the scale and capacity required to support people with high care and complex needs to live meaningful lives in the community.
- Engage and sustain informal care and support through the provision of timely information and support services that work in partnership with families.
- Provide support and regularly review the specific needs and preferences of people who remain living in RAC.
Building Better Lives works to get young people like Grayden Moore (pictured right) out of nursing homes. Image supplied by Building Better Lives.