The second Adelaide hearing for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has kicked off today, with a focus on aged care in the home.
One of the purposes into the week-long public hearing is to inquire into the perspective and experience of people seeking or receiving aged care services in their home, or their family members.
The regulatory framework as it applies to aged care in the home will also be looked at, the royal commission outlined.
Other areas of consideration for the hearing include: quality and safety in aged care in the home, accessibility to aged care in the home, the interface between aged care in the home and other care, sustainability and the future of aged care in the home, and any other key issues affecting the functioning of Australia’s aged care system.
In his opening statements, senior counsel assisting Dr Timothy McEvoy QC said the home care-focused hearing “will not be the only hearing dealing with care and supports in the home”.
Later hearings will deal with the individualised needs of specific groups, funding, and innovation in home care, according to the Queen’s counsel.
He re-iterated a need to “examine and understand how aged care services are currently being provided and delivered in the home” for future home-based aged care provision.
Noting the week-long hearing as having “a full program”, Dr McEvoy foreshadowed that it may be necessary for the royal commission to indulge in extended sitting hours over the period.
He explained that evidence will be tendered in consideration of the quality of care, and lesser quality of care.
Issues to be canvassed include accessibility, quality and safety, challenges in service provision, as well as dignity and respect, he considered.
Four witnesses are expected to be heard from on the hearing’s first day, with two having been listed as having “direct experience” while a third is Paul Sadler, the chief executive officer of Presbyterian Aged Care NSW and ACT.
Presbyterian Aged Care NSW and ACT purports that “caring for you is at the heart of everything we do”, and provides services “for people in their home with all kinds of needs, from all walks of life”, according to its website.
The royal commission said it has “approached the bodies and individuals from whom it seeks evidence for this public hearing”.
Dr McEvoy said witnesses in the current hearing will include those seeking or receiving aged care, people who work as personal care workers, a home care provider, and witnesses who will provide insight into care from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Dr McEvoy provided an update into the standing of public submissions, noting the royal commission had received 1704 public submissions, with others still being invited to come forward.
He noted that voluntary submissions had been received from 99 of the top 100 aged care providers in Australia, with the royal commission liaising with the sole non-submitter.
This week’s hearing comes after last month’s first hearing in Adelaide, which held the special purpose of providing background information for what is to come, and to identify in advance the issues that will require the royal commission’s attention “as widely and as generally as possible”, according the counsel assisting, Mr Peter Gray QC.
Since the last hearing, Dr McEvoy noted that public forums have been enormously helpful for the royal commission, “even when the topics are so confronting and deeply personal”.
He highlighted a number of site visits conducted across NSW and Victoria over the last month, with commissioners meeting directly with workers, families, and those in receipt of care.
Lawyers Weekly previously reported on the opening of the royal commission and the need for transparency from industry leaders, as well as the first round of hearings where it was noted that “the dominant narrative in current Australian culture seems to be that older Australians are a burden”.