Younger People in Residential Aged Care
The Australian Government is committed to minimising the need for younger people aged under 65 years of age to live in aged care facilities.
In some areas of Australia, residential aged care has been the only supported accommodation available for younger people with disability who have high or complex care needs. The aged care system is designed to support the needs of older people, and is not equipped to meet all the needs of younger people with disability.
A key difficulty in sourcing alternative care for younger people with disability has been accessing appropriate complex health supports in a community setting.
Another reason young people are entering residential aged care is due to the lack of suitable housing. There is a significant gap in the market for highly specialised disability accommodation.
As at 30 September 2018, the Department of Health reported there were 5,905 people aged under 65 years of age living in residential aged care facilities across Australia. Of these 5,905 people, 188 were aged under 45 years of age.
On 22 March 2019 the Government announced it has developed a national action plan to take concrete actions to reduce the number of younger people living in aged care and to help them access more age appropriate housing and supported living options.
The action plan has the following goals:
- support those already living in aged care aged under 45 to find alternative, age-appropriate housing and supports by 2022, if this is their goal
- support those already living in aged care aged under 65 to find alternative, age appropriate housing and supports by 2025, if this is their goal; and
- halve the number of younger people aged under 65 years of age entering aged care by 2025.
The action plan builds on a number of important initiatives already announced to reduce the need for younger people to live in aged care facilities.
- On 16 November 2018, the Government announced the commencement of a new NDIS Complex Support Needs Pathway. This new pathway will support all NDIS participants in aged care, or in hospital settings who are at risk of entering aged care given their need for significant supports and a lack of other accommodation options.
- On 8 February 2019, the Government announced significant reforms in the Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) space to improve choice and control for eligible NDIS participants, build market confidence and drive stronger investment. This will enable eligible people to have SDA included in their NDIS plans up front so they, or the people who support them, can commission a home from the market that suits their individual needs.
Achieving the goals of the action plan will be dependent on a number of factors. The NDIS is unable to achieve them on its own. It will take the collaborative engagement and positive contribution from:
- people with disability, their families, carers and supporters
- the Australian and state and territory Governments
- providers and investors in the SDA market; and
- other stakeholders.
The action plan acknowledges and priorities the rights of people to determine where they live. Younger people currently living in aged care will only be assisted to move where that is their goal and preference. It also recognises that in some limited circumstances that aged care may remain the safest and most suitable hosing option for younger people.
Younger NDIS participants living in aged care
For NDIS participants aged under 65 years of age living in aged care, the NDIS pays the means-tested care fee and daily accommodation payment. The NDIS also funds participants’ reasonable and necessary supports that go beyond what is delivered by aged care providers. These reasonable and necessary supports can include equipment, social and community activities, therapies and support to explore alternative housing options if the person has a goal to leave aged care.