Six young Australians a day forced into nursing homes

Royal commission hears of plight of young Australians stuck in aged care

Every day six young Australians are institutionalised in the aged care system because there is nowhere else they can go to receive the care they need.

The aged care royal commission is sitting in Melbourne this week and is turning its attention to people aged under 65 in nursing homes.

The cohort is made up of people who have lifelong disabilities, life-limiting illnesses or who acquire disabilities as a result of traumatic injuries.

Counsel assisting the commission, Peter Rozen, characterised the group as largely “unseen and lost Australians” who deserve better.

“Every week on average in Australia 42 younger Australians enter aged care. Six per day. Two thousand per year. By the time we return from [lunch] today, one more younger person can be expected to have become a resident in an aged care facility,” Rozen told the hearing.

Nursing homes are supposed to be the last resort for young people, but that’s not the case in practice.

I have to treat patients like objects: the harsh reality of working in dementia care.

Lisa Corcoran, 43, who has an acquired brain injury, gave evidence to the hearing with the help of a speech pathologist. She has been living in a nursing home for six years and said she was given no choice in the matter when she was discharged from hospital.

“The staff just bundled up my clothing and moved me – they didn’t even tell me where I was going,” she said.

Her number one life goal was to “get the fuck out of the nursing home. Up until recently every day I felt like killing myself.”

She characterised the time as a “nightmare” and lamented the indignity of having to fight for a shower every two days rather than once a week. She is also upset about not getting a choice about what clothes she wears each day.

Corcoran said it was traumatic to see people dying all around her and recently there had been six deaths in a fortnight.

“I saw one body being moved. I saw his head in a red bag. This was at 12pm when everyone was eating lunch,” she said.

“One day my room was getting painted and I had to go out of my room and into the common area. I remember seeing all the other residents just sitting as if they were waiting to die. You could hear a pin drop.”

Corcoran said feels isolated, unsupported by staff and spends the majority of her time alone in her room because she struggles to connect with the other residents. Her only visitor is her brother.

She detailed the humiliation of having an elderly man with dementia walk into her bathroom when she was having a shower. Another time staff forgot they had left her in the sun and she was severely burnt.

Corcoran is waiting to move into new accommodation under the National Disability Insurance Scheme by the end of the year.

It’s not getting old that people fear, it’s getting old and lonely and disconnected.

Meanwhile, Catherine Roche from Sydney’s northern beaches detailed the experience of how her late husband Michael’s stroke at the age of 56 had forced him into the aged care system because of a shortage of places in rehabilitation units.

“Everything I looked into ended up being a dead end,” she said.

Roche slammed the inadequate rehabilitation therapy, lack of socialisation and age-appropriate leisure activities on offer for her husband at the nursing home, which caused him to emotionally withdraw.

She was forced to pay for private physiotherapy sessions three times a week at a cost of $2,000 per month.

“Although Michael had physical disabilities and his speech was compromised, his cognition was still quite good. I could communicate with Michael verbally because I understood his speech patterns,” she said.

“I believe that staff at the residential aged care facility treated him as if he had dementia because they did not understand what he was saying.”

He couldn’t go on outings because two staff members were required to help move him because he was 1.9m tall. He died at age 59, a couple of months after a fall at the nursing home.

Roche said younger people with disabilities should be in environments with specially trained staff and not relegated to aged care.

Source : https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/sep/09/six-young-australians-a-day-forced-into-nursing-homes?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

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