The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has heard that stricter regulation of the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to aged care residents was needed across the sector.
Counsel assisting, Peter Gray QC said a earlier tightening of rules around the use of medications in aged care facilities to address behavioural issues did not go far enough in addressing the problem.
“These [Commonwealth] measures are commendable but in our submission, they don’t go far enough to a problem that’s persisted now for decades,” Mr Gray said today.
“The system should never again be involved in, this apparent resort to antipsychotics in place of proper care of the people showing so-called challenging behaviours.”
In the last hearing days of the Royal Commission, lawyers assisting the inquiry made 124 reform recommendations, which will be considered by the Commissioners ahead of the release of their final report in February.
High on the reform wishlist was a call to have all people under the age of 65 out of aged care by 2025.
Figures this year showed that 4,860 people under 65 were currently living in aged care homes across Australia.
“The government have delivered some encouraging early signs but…there have been false dawns before,” Mr Gray said.
He also called for greater utilisation of telehealth services, with the technology proving invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“At present telehealth’s underused by specialists and aged care providers and greater uptake needs to be incentivised.”
QCs Peter Gray and Peter Rozen have spent the last two years examining more than 10,000 submissions to the inquiry.
It’s hoped the Royal Commission will help to transform the aged care landscape in Australia.
Mr Gray and Mr Rozen yesterday outlined a new aged care act and a proposal to establish an independent aged care authority, to replace the current regulation by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
They say a new authority removed from the control of Government would put people before costs.