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Home News and media centre News Addressing the barriers to aged care

Addressing the barriers to aged care

Australia’s aged care system should be accessible to all older people, according to OPAN CEO Craig Gear.

‘That’s why the Charter of Aged Care Rights calls for service providers to actively affirm older people’s rich and diverse life experiences.

‘And why OPAN is working on a number of projects that target older people who face specific barriers to person-centred aged care.’

Barriers to access

Mr Gear drew attention to the isolation and trauma experienced by older people from culturally and linguistically diverse groups when they were unable to communicate with staff.

And he said many older people in LGBTQI+ communities feared they would be forced back into the closet when they entered a residential aged care home.

‘There is no limit to the number of barriers an older person might face.

‘Older veterans are impacted by extended periods of separation from friends and family. Military service also increases the likelihood of exposure to trauma.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander elders experience high rates of disability, homelessness and financial disadvantage.

‘Intergenerational trauma further impacts Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experience of aged care. Many have a deep mistrust of institutions as a result of past experiences.’

Equipping services to be more inclusive

OPAN’s Who’s Missing? Planning for Diversity project was developed in response to Recommendation 30: ‘Designing for diversity, difference, complexity and individuality’ in the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s final report.

Face-to-face workshops and eLearning modules will enable aged care service providers to develop specific responses to a wide range of barriers facing older people from diverse and marginal groups.

This national project, aimed at the person in an aged care organisation who is responsible for quality improvement, service planning and/or compliance, launches in Queensland on 31 January and in Tasmania on 9 February. A staged rollout across the other states will continue in the second half of the year.

Driving further change in this space is OPAN’s Manager, Policy and Systemic Advocacy, Samantha Edmonds, who was recently appointed as the chair of the Department of Health and Aged Care’s new Diversity Consultative Committee.

OPAN is also anticipating the rollout of Care Finders in the coming months. Six of OPAN’s nine member organisations collaborated on the COTA-led Aged Care Navigator Trials that informed the program, which focuses on hard-to-reach groups.

‘A functioning aged care system ensures nobody falls through the gaps,’ Mr Gear said.

‘OPAN is committed to identifying solutions – and delivering measurable results.’ 

Webinar series on meeting diverse needs

OPAN has produced a series of webinars on diversity in aged care. To hear what subject matter experts and individuals with diverse life experience have to say, view them here.