Senior Assistant Counsel Dr Timothy McEvoy opened the hearings with a detailed recap of the Royal Commission hearings from last month before highlighting key issues to be covered this week, including the cost of home care, labor implementation and impact of waiting lists on beneficiaries.
Witnesses on Monday spoke about their direct experiences with home care services for themselves or their loved one.
Dr Timothy McEvoy said as of February 28, 128,495 elderly Australians were not receiving any home care package or level of care for which they had been approved, an experience Raelene Ellis is all too familiar with.
Impact of waiting times and being âkicked outâ from respite
Ms Ellis detailed the emotional turmoil informal caregivers face as her 78-year-old mother with dementia was kicked out of a respite center after being hospitalized with pneumonia.
She says she has been waiting for a home care package for her mother since 2014, when she noticed a significant decline in her mother’s health.
Initially, Ms Ellis’ mother was assessed for a level 1-2 home care package, but this was upgraded following a fall in her garden in 2015, which saw her break. the C4 vertebrae in the neck.
She was finally approved for a Level 3 package in May 2016, but finding suppliers turned out to be the next challenge.
âI went to the My Aged Care website and it looked like there were level 3-4 packages available from some vendors and they wouldn’t have any packages available,â Ms. Ellis said.
âWe have enough money in our company to be able to take care of everyone.
“Someone shouldn’t have to be notified of the next person’s death, you can get help, but until then, tough bikkies, you can’t.”
After learning that her mother was next on the list to receive a home care package, the waiting list was nationalized.
“It was very frustrating knowing my mom was next on the list to get a level 4 package and then suddenly not knowing where mom was on the list, how long we would wait for this supplement to help.” , adds Ms. Ellis.
âDuring this time, Mom’s health was deteriorating rapidly. ”
But when the family finally learned that a Level 4 package was available, Ms. Ellis’ “sense of relief” was met with disbelief as more than $ 50,000 in care equated to nine hours of support per week.
Looking at the breakdown of her mother’s plan, Ms Ellis says she thinks the high administration fee means the vendor was paid twice.
“I equated it to, I think, just over $ 20,000 that went just for their administration, which left about $ 30,000 for the actual care of the individual.”
“Where is the money going? Because $ 50,000 shouldn’t mean just nine hours of care. ”
Ms. Ellis also recalls that in order to receive the dementia supplement, her mother was asked to undergo an additional assessment at a cost of $ 80, when she already had a confirmed diagnosis.
“I wonder if there are other people who just don’t ask for the dementia supplement because they don’t want to pay that $ 80.”
As Ms Ellis and her family took a much-needed break, her mother had access to respite at Opal Aged Care when she suffered pneumonia.
âI didn’t see her for about five days and after five days she was seriously ill.
âShe was lying on sheets stained with urine.
“I had told them, you know, why an ambulance hadn’t been called.”
However, when she was finally released from the hospital about 40 hours later, Ms Ellis received a phone call from Opal Aged Care telling her that their respite agreement had been terminated.
“They could have done it [held the room] if they wanted too, but the priority was the money over my mother.
She says that although she had discussed the tenure with the supplier, it was a difficult decision that required both time and research.
âIf these people are providing this care, they have to understand it because it is not a decision I want to make for my mother. ”
“But the result of this decision was that Mom then became homeless.”
Ms Ellis says she is exhausted and believes more needs to be done to support informal caregivers.
âThe solution is that all it takes is a legislative change to allow someone to take respite leave for hospital admissions.
âWhat we need is a real support network.
âBeing an informal caregiver is difficult and I think it just needs to be reflected in the system as well.
Therese lives in another senior care facility and is now bedridden, requiring two people to move her.
Ms. Ellis says more support and compassion is needed in the care of the elderly.
âWe are really struggling so far. ”
âI don’t think we ever really got the care she needed. ”
âThe elderly care system occurs against the backdrop of the significant decline in people’s health.
“It’s a system that is provided to people who are already in crisis.”
Bottom feeder suppliers
A witness from the Department of Health believes that many providers view home care as a way to make money, with little interest in ensuring the safety and care of older Australians, describing them as’ candidates low level â.
âThere is a very large cohort of companies that I think see home care as a business opportunity, and not much more than that.
âThe reason I call them ‘bottom feeders’ is that the quality of their applications is so poor that it’s so obvious that they haven’t even taken the time to read the advice for applicants.
âThey don’t understand what their responsibilities would be as an approved supplier.
The witness said previous “bottom feeding” requests included references to residential senior care, legislation and guidelines that no longer exist.
She says these substandard requests overwhelm the staff in the department processing up to 13 supplier requests at a time, with each request taking two weeks to process.
“It makes my team angry because we have to spend an amazing time keeping these people out of the business because, like I said before, I think they are dangerous.”
“It’s scary to me that there are so many out there.”
The witness told the Commission that eight in ten supplier requests would fall into the âbottom feederâ category.
“I guess eight out of 10 of what I’m looking at is garbage.”
She also says that home care reforms that took effect in February 2017, especially after the Elderly Care Approval Cycle (ACAR), had devastating consequences on the quality of care available and created a âfree for allâ attitude among applicants for service providers.
“I think it was just seen as a great business opportunity to come in and make some money.”
The hearings of the Royal Commission on the Care of the Elderly continued today.