Newsletter - Issue 1 - May 2019
This occasional newsletter will keep you updated on all community news associated with the Commission as well as information on how to make a submission and details on where to go for support.
Royal Commission moves to Sydney as opening hearings are completed in Adelaide
The Sydney hearing of the Royal Commission began on Monday 6 May and will run over two weeks to 17 May. The hearing will focus on care for people living with dementia.
The first hearings took place in Adelaide during February and March and began with an overview of the state of the aged care sector in Australia. The February hearing provided background and context to the Commission's inquiry by covering a range of issues including the regulation and accreditation of residential aged care homes, staffing levels and training.
The Commission heard from many key players in the aged care sector as well as family members, medical experts and unions representing workers in aged care.
Barbara and Clive Spriggs gave evidence about the treatment of their husband and father, Bob Spriggs, who was a patient and resident at the Oakden facility in South Australia.
The Commission also heard evidence about Australia's ageing population and the increasing number of Australians diagnosed with dementia.
In March, the second Adelaide hearing focused on aged care services in the home and heard evidence which illustrated the complexity faced by older Australians in navigating the system in order to gain access to this type of care. The Commission also heard evidence that the people who needed access to care found it very difficult engaging with My Aged Care online or by telephone.
Waiting lists for Home Care Packages for in home care services were identified as a significant issue as were concerns about a lack of transparency in the fees and administration charges set by home care providers.
The Commission will make its way to all capital cities and a number of regional locations around Australia.
For more details go to the Royal Commission website.
Making a submission to the Royal Commission
If you have information you want to share with the Royal Commission, you can make a submission through the website.
Each submission will be given careful consideration and while some people will find it difficult, it's important the Commission hears your stories.
While submissions will be accepted up until September, we urge you to tell us your stories as soon as possible so that it can be considered as part of the preparations for public hearings.
Submissions can be made on our website.
Visiting aged care service providers
Visits have taken place at the following sites (in alphabetical order):
- Dementia Australia - Melbourne, VIC
- Dudley Foord House (Anglicare) - The Ponds, NSW
- Group Homes Australia - St Ives, NSW
- HammondCare - Hammondville, NSW
- Jewish Care - South Melbourne, VIC
- Kincare - Bella Vista, NSW
- Our Lady of Consolation Aged Care Services - Rooty Hill, NSW
- Uniting Age Well, Strathdon Community - Forest Hill, VIC
- Wintringham - Port Melbourne, VIC
Members of the public may not be aware that as well as conducting hearings and community forums, Commissioners and staff from the Royal Commission have been visiting aged care service providers and conducting what we call 'service visits' to a range of aged care services.
These visits are part of the information-gathering which will provide some context for the ways in which aged care services are delivered. They also form part of the engagement process which is an important part of this Royal Commission.
It's important to point out that these visits are not an inspection of the provider of the type conducted by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
At the Royal Commission we try to see a diverse range of aged care services in a variety of settings provided to older Australians. Visits do not contribute to any findings about specific facilities. When selecting a service for a visit by the Royal Commission, it does not reflect any judgement, positive or negative, about the safety and quality of a service.
We have visited nine providers in Sydney and Melbourne so far. Generally, the visit lasts for around two hours and is attended by one of the Commissioners and members of the legal and policy teams.
In the interests of privacy of the service providers who are receiving a service visit from the Royal Commission we will not be making visits public until after they have occurred.
"This forum was so important, as some of the people who spoke today would not have usually had the chance to speak before a Commission." Commissioner Lynelle Briggs.
Bendigo, Bankstown, Wollongong and west Melbourne
The Royal Commission went on the road in March for community forums which were attended by more than 700 people in Bankstown western Sydney, Bendigo Victoria and Wollongong NSW.
On 3 May, 250 people attended the latest community forum in west Melbourne.
Members of the community had the opportunity to tell stories of their experiences of aged care and what they think needs to change.
Community forums are designed to be different to the hearings which are held in courtrooms as it is less formal and offer the opportunity to hear from as many people as possible. Registered speakers can address the Commissioner for five minutes. It's a chance to hear people's personal stories and learn about a broad range of issues and experiences.
Commissioner Lynelle Briggs AO who attended all three of the March community forums told those attending that she hoped it would be a less daunting experience for people than the hearings. "We want to hear from members of the public about their experience of aged care, including its problems, its strengths and the opportunities to do aged care better," Commissioner Briggs said.
Community forums have been extremely well attended by local audiences with bookings at a maximum at Bankstown Sports Club, Bendigo Town Hall and WIN Stadium, Wollongong. The west Melbourne forum was well attended and positively received by members of the public.
The forum, in the suburb of Maidstone, was attended by Commissioner Briggs AO and Commissioner Tracey AM RFD QC.
There were common themes throughout all forums, such as the need for more training for aged care staff and better staffing levels in care homes. There were concerned accounts and personal stories from carers, family members and those with lived experience of aged care.
Accessibility and support
To date, the Royal Commission has received 3850 submissions.
We have assisted 220 callers to make a submission to the Commission on our information line.
Individuals who are visually impaired can call our inquiry line for assistance with a question or to make a submission.
For people who are deaf, hearing-impaired or have complex communication needs, we are using a phone service provided by the National Relay Service (NRS).
The Royal Commission can provide an Auslan interpreter at hearings and community forums upon request.
We can also accept submissions in other languages over the phone or via hard copy. We are using the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) to help support this.
Counselling and support
Please go to our support page to see a full list of support services that are available to you.
The Royal Commission website has a number of elements designed to make it easier to use:
- You can read about the Royal Commission in plain English
- There is information in other languages
- We offer guidance on making a submission and details of further assistance on the submissions page of the website
- The Royal Commission Facebook page is now live