Difficulties in getting access to medical care has exacerbated the poor health of some people living in aged care facilities, a royal commission has been told.
The aged care royal commission will examine access to health care across Australia at a public hearing in Canberra that begins on Monday.
There is considerable regional variation in health services available on the ground, a statement released by the royal commission ahead of this week’s hearing said.
There is little evidence of a systematic approach to providing health care to people in the aged care system, particularly residents in facilities, the statement said.
Lawyers assisting the royal commission said all people receiving aged care should have access to health care services commensurate with their needs, on an equitable basis with the access to health care enjoyed by other Australians.
“Access to health services is perhaps best described as a patchwork quilt where the pieces don’t join particularly well,” the opening statement by counsel assisting said.
“In some areas with an active primary health network or local hospital network, older people in aged care receive excellent services.
“In other areas, access is much more limited.”
A number of people will tell the inquiry problems in obtaining access to medical care have exacerbated the poor health of their loved ones living in aged care and impacted their quality of life.
Senior health department officials from the federal government and each state and territory will give evidence.
The federal government is responsible for the management and funding of aged care, but responsibility for managing and funding the various tiers and types of health care varies and is complex, the statement said.
The royal commission will also hear from doctors, medical associations and other experts about potential improvements to access to health services for those in aged care.