The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety resumed public hearings this month with a hearing in Melbourne between July 15 and 17.
In the spotlight was the provision of mental health care, oral health care and allied health care to people receiving aged care services. Improving those services in aged care is critical because they often play a critical role in ensuring the health and wellbeing of older people.
This is not the first time the Royal Commission had conducted a hearing on the interface between the health care and aged care systems. At its December 2019 hearing in Canberra the Royal Commission looked at the need to improve access and consistency in primary health care services, particularly access to general practitioners (GPs), nurse practitioners and primary care nurses for older people in residential aged care.
Commissioners heard evidence from a range of witnesses on possible improvements in funding models, training for aged care workers, and incentives for health care professionals to provide these services to people in their homes. It also looked at the role and responsibility of approved providers of aged care services to ensure aged care recipients receive the mental, oral and allied health care they need.
The hearing was closed to the public and media in light of the Covid-19 pandemic but could be viewed by live webcast. It is good to see hearings resume.
Delay to the Royal Commission’s Final Report
The Royal Commission’s final report will now be handed to government in February 2021. The report was initially due in November 2020. The delay is due to interruptions to the Commission’s work because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The delay is understandable and it is important that the commissioners have time to provide a complete and thorough report.
My concern is that the report’s delay further delays urgent reform of the aged care sector including rewriting the Aged Care Act. I am also concerned that the Federal Government is not listening to and will not respond to the Commission’s findings in any case. (Read more about my concerns here.)
Submissions to the Royal Commission close July 31
The commissioners have extended the deadline for general submissions to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety by a month to Friday, 31 July 2020.
As at July 22, 2020 the Commission had received 8750 submissions.
The Commission is progressively publishing a selection of general submissions from members of the public and organisations on its website.
Next hearings in Sydney
The next Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety hearings will be in Sydney in August.
Sydney Hearing 2 will run from August 10 to 13, 2020 and will inquire into the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in aged care. Sydney Hearing 3 is on August 13 and 14, 2020 and will focus on aged care accommodation.