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6,000 young people in nursing homes: the ‘unspoken, unknown’ chapter in our aged-care narrative

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Scott Morrison’s royal commission into the aged-care sector is poised to look beyond the elder abuse and neglect inherent in the system.

It will also shine a light on youth in aged-care, who are forced into residential nursing home facilities due to a lack of other appropriate care services.  More than 6,000 vulnerable people aged under 65 reside in aged-care services because of their mental and physical disabilities, with only 2% gaining enough from the NDIS to return to their homes.

Dr Bronwyn Morkham, National Director at the Young People in Nursing Homes National Alliance, says this is not good enough. We need to reform the care sector so young people can be accommodated, not relegated into services incompatible with their needs.

“The reason these young people are stuck is that we simply don’t have a response for them. These are younger people who have complex needs and we simply don’t have anything for them.”

“Nursing homes are trying their very best but the aged-care system doesn’t have the right resources. It was never designed to support these young people who come along with very different, intense needs. Yet we expect the aged-care system that was never meant to have them, to pick up the slack and support them adequately.”

“But it can’t, it doesn’t have the resourcing to do it.”

It’s thought the disjointed, fragmented nature of care is worsening the plight of these young people, with the different services they need operating in isolated silos, rather than collaboratively.

“I do hope the royal commission will highlight this. We need to demand that things are done differently,” implores Morkham.

“They are not working together, they don’t know how. We need to provide integrated services for these younger people.”

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