Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

Updated 25 June 2020

Commission release interim report: Neglect

COTA Australia | Want to know More | How to make a submission | What we heard from Queenslanders

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety Interim Report found the aged care system fails to meet the needs of older, vulnerable, citizens. It does not deliver uniformly safe and quality care, is unkind and uncaring towards older people and, in too many instances, it neglects them.

Entitled Neglect, the interim report found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required. The Interim Report sets out the extent of the failure of Australia’s aged care services and what the Royal Commission has learned to date.

In the report Commissioners the late Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs describe the many problems that older people and their families have in trying to get access to aged care services, service shortfalls, the dispiriting nature of residential care, serious substandard care and unsafe practice, an underpaid, undervalued and insufficiently trained workforce, and isolation of young people with disabilities.

The Commissioners identified three areas where immediate action can be taken:

  • to provide more Home Care Packages to reduce the waiting list for higher level care at home
  • to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraint in aged care
  • to stop the flow of younger people with a disability going into aged care, and speed up the process of getting out those young people who are already in aged care.

Tabled in the Australian Parliament on 31 October, the Interim Report is in three volumes and is available on the Royal Commission’s website along with an extract from the foreword, ‘A Shocking Tale of Neglect’. It covers much, but not all, of the work of the Royal Commission through to September 2019. Most of the Royal Commission’s work on quality and safety considerations will be in the Final Report is due 12  November 2020.

Hearings to recommence in July

The Commission has announced it will restart its hearings with a hearing next month on mental health, oral health and allied health care in aged care. The hearing will now take place in Melbourne from 15 to 17 July 2020 and will be closed to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Commission will also be releasing more of its research and policy development prepared for the Final Report in the coming weeks.

A reminder that the Royal Commissioners have announced that the deadline for general submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will be at the close of business on Friday, 31 July 2020. This means that the Royal Commissioners will continue to receive submissions for a month longer than the current deadline.

If you would like to inform COTA’s response to the Royal Commission and our ongoing advocacy work, please register your interest here 

Submissions invited on financing of the aged care sector

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has released a Financing Aged Care consultation paper, examining ways through which to finance the sector. The paper examines how aged care is currently funded and explores changes that include a compulsory social insurance scheme not dissimilar to the accident compensation schemes.  Responses to the paper are now invited until Tuesday 4 August 2020. The consultation paper, Financing Aged Care, is available on the Commission’s website.

Submissions invited on System Governance and Market Management

The Commission is inviting submissions from interested individuals and organisations on the topic of system governance, market management and the allocation and clarification of roles and responsibilities for these functions. A number of questions for consideration are provided on the Commission website. The final date to provide submissions is Monday, 13 July 2020.

Please email submissions to: [email protected] For more information please see the Commission website.

COTA Australia welcomes reality check

COTA Australia has welcomed the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s interim report. It  confirms that neglect, abuse and poor care are more widespread than governments and many providers have been prepared to accept, but which COTA has called out over many years.

COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates welcomed the acknowledgement from the Commission that older Australians are neglected. This occurs within the aged care system which supports around 1.3 million older Australians each year, and also in the negative attitudes towards older people within the broader community.

“COTA agrees with the Royal Commission that older Australians should be more valued by the wider community. It’s not just about loving your grandparents, Australians need to also reach out as a community and support their elderly neighbours and fellow citizens, many of whom are still waiting to receive care they’ve been assessed as needing and won’t even be in the formal care system,” Mr Yates said. For further comment go to COTA Australia’s media release.

So you want to know more about the Royal Commission into Aged Care?

A royal commission is the highest level of public inquiry in Australia. Its main functions are to investigate an issue, produce a report and make recommendations to government. This work is informed by extensive input from members of the community, who are invited to share their concerns about the matter/s being investigated.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was established by the Federal Government in 2018 in response to growing concerns about the quality of aged care in Australia. The Royal Commission will explore issues relating to care that is provided in residential settings as well as care that is provided in the home. The exact issues to be considered are set out in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality & Safety’s Terms Of Reference.

The Royal Commission identified in the Interim Report that the focus for 2020 will be on how to design a future aged care system that puts older people first. Some of the issues they expect to explore in future hearings include:

  • the funding of aged care and the impact it has on how care is delivered
  • integration and transition between different parts of the aged care system, including home, residential and respite care
  • governance and accountability in aged care
  • how to identify and encourage innovation and improvement in aged care
  • models for the delivery aged care
  • system architecture and design to support a good quality of life for people using aged care services
  • how best to deliver aged care in a sustainable way.

As with their previous hearings, witnesses may include experts, advocates, service providers and policymakers; with evidence of the direct experience of older people and their family and friends continuing to be a priority..

How to make a Submission to the Royal Commission

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety invites interested members of the public and institutions to make submissions to the Royal Commission.

Following an extension, the Royal Commission will continue to accept submissions until the end of June 2020.   Submissions made should be consistent with the areas of inquiry set out in the Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference.

You can provide information in any of the following ways:

  • Online – The submission form can be completed entirely online (in English or any other language)
  • MailA printed submission form to GPO Box 1151, ADELAIDE  SA 5001 (in English or any other language)
  • Call – 1800 960 711 (between 8.30am – 5.30pm ACST, Monday-Friday except on public holidays. Interpreter service is available.)
  • Email – [email protected] (in English or any other language)
  • Write – To GPO Box 1151, ADELAIDE  SA 5001 (in English or any other language)
  • Send a video or audio recording – The recording must not be more than 25MB. If it is larger you can send it in several parts (in English or any other language)

Important: If you prefer to speak or write in your own language, please advise the Royal Commission the language you wish to use.
The Royal Commission will provide an interpreter or translation into English, at no cost to you.

What have we heard from older people about aged care services in Queensland?

Over the past 12 months, COTA Queensland has facilitated or partnered in a number of direct engagement activities with over 1000 people across the state to inform our contributions for both the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and the Queensland Inquiry into aged care, end-of-life and palliative care and voluntary assisted dying.  People contributed their experiences, frustrations and suggestions through Kitchen Table Discussions, Focus Groups, World Café Conversations, Wisdom Walls and Community Conversation Workshops.  These are some of the things we heard you say:

  • Allow me to maintain and sustain my independence and control
  • Give me choices and options, respect my wishes and honour my rights
  • Help me to maintain my place in society and to feel included in society
  • Provide me with quality, timely, and affordable clinical care
  • Provide me with practical assistance, such as transport, housing, technology, financial assistance, and access to user-friendly information
  • Help me to feel safe

We thank people for their input and continue to use findings from the engagements in our policy and advocacy work in a range of settings.

To stay up to date on the work of the Commission you can sign up to their mailing list or keep an eye on their website agedcare.royalcommission.gov.au