Young people living in nursing homes are one of the most marginalised groups of people in Australia. Each year in Australia, nearly 300 people under 50 years are admitted to nursing homes. Their lives are characterised by boredom, loneliness and grief, with 53% receiving a visit from a friend less than once per year. The distress this causes their families is immense.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is very exciting and a significant part of the solution to the issue of young people living in nursing homes. It will provide the critical funding this group needs to live in the community. However the NDIS does not have the resources to build the scale of new housing required for young people in nursing homes. Given the lack of housing for people with disability we do not anticipate many people moving out in the next few years simply because there is no where to move to. Australia desperately needs more housing that is both accessible and affordable, with innovative solutions that address the needs of young people who are currently forced to live in the aged care system.
What policy change do we want?
There are four key areas that must be addressed to resolve the issue of young people in nursing homes in Australia. Our work will focus largely on policy and practice change in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) sites. This change will have a national impact as the NDIS rolls out.
1. Ensure that young people in residential aged care get access to the National Disability Insurance Scheme
The Summer Foundation is conducting action research to measure outcomes and identify any gaps, issues or barriers to young people in nursing homes getting access to services funded by NDIS in the trial sites. We are working with the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to streamline the NDIS registration process of young people currently in nursing homes and those at risk of entering nursing homes. Our target group requires information, resources and support to access the services they desperately need.
View our position statement: Access to the NDIS for Younger People in Residential Aged Care.
2. Prevent new admissions
Once in a nursing home, young people lose skills and their social networks diminish. Most (59%) young people are admitted to an acute or rehabilitation hospital before their first admission to a nursing home. We will work to improve the interface between Health, Aged Care Assessment Services (ACAS) and the NDIS in order to minimise new admissions of young people to nursing homes. We will also advocate for slow stream rehabilitation services so that people with severe acquired brain injury have the time they need to demonstrate their potential before a decision is made about their housing and support options.
3. Increase the range and scale of housing
We do not expect many people to move out of nursing homes in the NDIS trial sites because of the lack of appropriate housing and support options. Housing for people with disability needs
to be integrated into mainstream housing strategies rather than continuing to build segregated and specialist housing – this will create the scale and range of housing options we need.
View our position statement Developing NDIS housing for people with complex support needs.
Getting the physical design and technology right in housing for people with disability is relatively simple compared to getting the model of support right. One of the biggest challenges for disability support organisations is developing and maintaining a culture that treats people with disability with dignity and respect, and fosters independence and community inclusion.