Aged care royal commission interim findings prompt $500 million in additional funds

Monday, November 25, 2019

The 10-month inquiry revealed systemic failures in the sector, finding that many elderly Australians were neglected and forced to live in "unkind and uncaring" conditions.

The interim report pinpointed three key areas for immediate action: more funding for homecare packages to cut waiting list times; reducing the reliance on chemical restraints; and stopping younger people with disabilities being forced into aged care facilities.

Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the Coalition's response, including almost $500 million for 10,000 more homecare packages.

More than $25 million will be spent on better medication management programs to reduce the use of chemical restraints, which is the practice of using medication to subdue and control the behaviour of residents in aged care facilities.

The royal commission called the use of chemical restraints "inhumane, abusive and unjustified".

Another $4.7 million will be spent on meeting new targets to stop young people with disabilities being placed into aged care facilities.

The Federal Government wants to ensure no-one under the age of 45 is living in aged care by 2022, and no-one under the age of 65 by 2025.

"I want to assure all Australians that we will deal with these issues as you would if you were standing in my shoes today," Mr Morrison said.

"I know quite precisely the sorts of things that you are thinking about at the moment when it comes to the treatment of your loved ones in aged care. My family is no different to yours in that respect.

"And so I have a very deep understanding of the difficult decisions that you're having to make, the conversations you're having to have with the partners, husbands, wives of those loved ones going into care."

The day the interim report was delivered, a meeting of state and territory health ministers agreed to make the safe use of medicine a national health priority, after the alarming testimony heard by the royal commission about chemical restraints.