YOUNG central Victorians with disability and their carers are being urged to share their experiences of aged care as a living arrangement of last resort.
Fifty Australians under the age of 65 enter aged care each week because there is nowhere else for them to live that will support their needs, according to advocacy group the Summer Foundation.
The Melbourne-based organisation is staging a workshop at the Bendigo Library on Thursday to ensure the voices of those at risk of, or living in, aged care before their time are heard by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
The Royal Commission started in Adelaide today.
“The commissioners are going to hear from a lot of professionals but for them to hear directly from young people with lived experience will be the most powerful way to show why aged care should not be a routine solution to the housing and support needs of young people with disability,” Summer Foundation chief of staff Carolyn Finis said.
Two groups have formed in central Victoria – one in Bendigo, the other in Mount Alexander Shire – to try to provide suitable and stable long-term homes for people with disability within their home communities.
Many of the groups’ members are ageing carers of people with disabilities, who are concerned about what will happen to their loved ones when they are no longer able to provide for them.
Sue Harrison is a member of the Mount Alexander Shire Accommodation and Respite Group and mother to Daisy, a woman in her 30s.
The idea of her daughter being forced to live in an environment intended to care for people at the end of their life, should something happen to her family, is one that fills Ms Harrison with fear.
“She should not be in that environment,” she said.
“It would be cruel.”
Ms Harrison said MASARG was aware of instances when ageing parents had passed away and people living in the shire had been at risk of entering aged care.
The group is working to develop long-term supported accommodation for people with disability within the Castlemaine community.
MASARG has arranged a forum in March to help inform people with disability and their families on how to access the supports needed to live independently.
Quality Living Options Bendigo is also working towards establishing long-term supported accommodation in the community.
The group’s president, Dr Noela Foreman, said aged care for people under the age of 65 with disabilities could be ‘totally inappropriate’.
“A young person living with a lot of elderly people can feel like a square peg in a round hole,” she said.
“It is a very difficult thing.”
She said young people needed more stimulated and directed progress appropriate for them than might traditionally be provided in an aged care facility.
Bendigo aged care advocate Ruth Hosking believed people over the age of 65 and under the age of 65 should be cared for in separate facilities so activities and care programs catered for the appropriate age groups.
Mrs Hosking intends to make a submission to the Royal Commission addressing multiple aspects of the terms of reference.
‘How best to deliver aged care services to people with disabilities residing in aged care facilities, including younger people’ is one part of the broader scope of inquiry.
More than 6000 Australians under the age of 65 live in aged care, according to the Summer Foundation.
Participants in Thursday’s workshop in Bendigo will be assisted to create a submission for the Royal Commission. Places in the workshop are limited to six people.
To register, call 1300 626 560 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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