There is a growing number of individuals in aged care, and its not wholly comprised of elderly individuals. There is an increasing amount of people, currently approximately 7000, with disabilities within facilities and many of them are under the age of 65. Not only are aged care facilities not equipped for disabled people, but these individuals often find themselves extremely isolated and lonely as activities are not aimed at them and there are no other individuals their age with whom they can socialize. Managing the well-being of disabled residents also comes at a cost for aged care facilities as they use resources to care for them. So what is happening about this?
The main reason why so many disabled people end up in nursing homes is that there is no where else for them to go. A lack of suitable and affordable care and accommodation forces people to move to aged care facilities where there are care providers and a bed for them. In many cases, staff at facilities are not prepared to handle the needs of a disabled individual but do so as best they can given the circumstances.
In an attempt to create better living situations for many disabled individuals, the government announced the National Disability Insurance Scheme whereby applicants design a care plan themselves, allowing them to outline the best care for themselves. Currently in its trial phase, the NDIS is planned to be rolled out completely in 2018. It is hoped that through this scheme, many disabled youth find alternatives to living in aged care facilities.
Several groups including Youngcare and Young People in Nursing Homes actively try and find solutions for this problem through the creation of special disability-specific homes but they can not handle all cases. They estimate that the NDIS scheme will not result in a significant amount of individuals being transferred out of aged care facilities as there simply is no where else for them to go. Perhaps 1/3 of disabled residents will move home and receive care there but that is not possible for many.
Several reports including one by the Community Affairs References Committee outlined recommendations on how to accommodate for those who do not have a choice regarding their care situation. This includes training aged care staff to understand the needs of disabled patients. They also encourage the Government to pay more attention to these individuals. They could start with the creation of a database outlining the basics of disabled individuals in aged care including age, the amount of time spent in the facility, and the requirements for them to move out. Additionally, they could create an inquiry into care and accommodation needs of the disabled so that they can better plan and care for them. Special attention must be paid to mental health as well seeing as they often become extremely isolated in aged care facilities.
Aged care facilities should be prepared to care for some disabled people as there is no immediate solution to the issue of suitable accommodation.