cohealth welcomes recommendations to respect and recognise human rights of older australians in aged care system

Released on 10th March 2021

cohealth applauds the landmark final report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care that recommends enshrining in legislation a rights-based system that guarantees older people universal access to the supports and services they need. As a provider of home-based supports cohealth welcomes the recommendation to clear the waiting list and provide home care packages to those who need them right now.

“We’re pleased to see that the Royal Commission has supported the fact that people want to stay at home for as long as possible and their right to access the right supports to achieve that,” said Ms Nicole Bartholomeusz, Chief Executive, cohealth.

As one of Victoria’s leading community health services, cohealth delivers a range of services for older people that assist them to remain well and healthy at home. These include physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy, dietitians and other allied health practitioners, as well as general health and social support services and social inclusion programs.

More than 25 per cent of cohealth’s clients are over the age of 65, and the community health model prioritises care for people facing disadvantage such as homelessness, mental illness, language barriers, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

“I’m pleased to see that the Royal Commission has recognised how difficult the aged care system, including My Aged Care, is to navigate for older people, particularly those with more complex circumstances.

“We applaud their recommendation to introduce ‘care finders’ to assist people to navigate the system, and ‘care managers’ to help those with complex needs or require multiple or intensive responses.

“These support workers will make a big difference to people getting the care they need,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

“At many stages along the My Aged Care process there is a presumption that people have access to internet-based information and a mobile phone, that they have a fixed address, that they have family members who can guide them through the process, and that English is their first language. This is simply not the case for many older people with whom cohealth works,” she said.

“Our GPs and nurses are having to take on the role of navigating the system on behalf of their patients, when instead the system should be made simpler,” she said.

“It is our experience that more vulnerable groups in the community have not been well served by the shift towards individualised packages of care. The person-centred approach recommended by the Royal Commission where care and supports address physical, social, psychological, cultural and spiritual needs, must address this.

“We hope this includes assertive outreach to identify and engage with people who are vulnerable and isolated, along with bicultural workers and translated materials for non-English speakers.  Such interventions will support vulnerable and isolated consumers who would not otherwise engage in the aged care system,” said Ms Bartholomeusz.

The Royal Commission and everyone who contributed to it, is to be commended for the comprehensive roadmap to improve care for older Australians. It’s imperative that the Government now acts without delay to adopt the recommendations and provide the investment needed to ensure older Australians are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

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More information: Lanie Harris 0418 552 377 

More on cohealth: 

cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical, oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.  

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