Some of the people under 65 who have to live in an aged care facility are young people who have an acquired disability with complex support needs. Their needs often bridge the aged care, disability, health, housing and community services sectors. As an Aged Care Placement Specialist at times I am called upon to assist these younger people find a suitable aged care facility. These facilities are generally geared toward the elderly residents and it can be frustrating for a younger person living there to get access to the services they need.
These younger residents can be suffering from conditions such as acquired brain injury, progressive neurological diseases, a stroke, a heart attack, injuries sustained playing sport or in a motor accident or have been victims of crime left with a severe disability. After an initial hospital stay, they often go onto a rehab unit to receive physiotherapy and other treatments to assist them in regaining some movement and independence. Unfortunately, once the rehab unit has completed its task there is often nowhere else that can support their high needs except an aged care facility.
Consider a young man, Carl aged twenty one years, was hit by an oncoming vehicle. He sustained horrific injuries and whilst in hospital suffered a heart attack followed by a stroke several months later. He ended up with an acquired brain injury which affected his ability to walk, talk and move but his cognitive functions were intact. He was responding well to rehabilitation and getting some movement back, but funding was withdrawn and he is now in a wheelchair with no prospect of walking again. He was then recommended to live in an aged care facility. It is obvious from this story and others like it that ongoing rehabilitation and physiotherapy services are required for someone with such complex needs and it seems unfair that a young man has been reduced to a state of such dependence.
So it is encouraging in my role as an Aged Care Placement Consultant to see that the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will now enable those younger people in an aged care facility to access the types of supports and rehab they need. These will include occupational therapy, speech pathology, physiotherapy, specialised equipment, financial assistance for care-related costs, access to social, civic and community activities and support networks with family, friends and carers. Young People In Nursing Homes National Alliance continue to support and lobby for improvements in services.