The ability to access care is essential for the health and wellbeing of culturally diverse older people living in regional Victoria. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria believes that further research is needed to assess service gaps to culturally diverse seniors in regional Victoria. A number of gaps and barriers to equitable aged care for culturally diverse older people in regional Victoria are simply unaddressed. This report summary identifies key areas and recommendations for improvements to Aged Care for Culturally Diverse residents in regional Victoria.
The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) is concerned about the lack of culturally appropriate service options in regional Victoria. The ECCV consulted with its regional members, health providers, and Access and Support workers in regional Victoria to determine service gaps to culturally diverse seniors.
This position paper summarises the key findings of our consultations, provides recommendations, and outlines the way forward.
- Seniors, including those from culturally diverse backgrounds and who live on the Victorian and New South Wales border, are not eligible to access Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) services across the border.
- There are extensive waitlists to access CHSP services in some areas of regional Victoria, including domestic assistance, e.g. there is no or little domestic assistance available in the Moira region.
- Aged care service gaps in regional Victoria affect all older people including those from culturally diverse backgrounds.
- There is a shortage of aged care workers in regional Victoria, for example in the Gippsland area growing home care providers find it difficult to recruit aged care workers.
- There is a shortage of approved home care providers in many parts of regional Victoria, such as the Northern Loddon Mallee region.
- ECCV is concerned about the long waiting times to access aged care services in regional Victoria.
- ECCV highlights that often after the conclusion of the assessment and by the time services become available to a client, their needs may have changed significantly.
- Often older culturally diverse people refrain from accessing any services due to the significant difficulties in accessing these services in the first place, including language barriers, issues of trust and the ability to navigate the service system.
- A growing number of older people from refugee and new and emerging communities continue to settle in regional Victoria but know very little about the aged care system and how to access it.
- The Victorian Access and Support program is key to ensure that older culturally diverse people access aged care services in regional Victoria
Key ECCV Policy Positions and Recommendations
A number of gaps and barriers to equitable aged care for culturally diverse older people in regional Victoria are simply unaddressed. Improvements to help culturally diverse older people and their representing organisations to access aged care services are required. Clear concern exists about the social isolation of culturally diverse older people living in regional Victoria. A growing number of culturally diverse older people in regional, rural and remote areas of Victoria need better access to ageing and aged care services.
There is a need for both Federal and State Governments commit to the continuation of the Victorian Access and Support program to ensure vulnerable and diverse clients don’t miss out on vital support services. The Federal Department of Health should continue to regulate aged care service provision and support services (e.g. carers support services) in regional areas to ensure vulnerable people receive appropriate support.
There is a clear need for the Federal and Victorian governments to assist providers in regional Victoria to attract, retain, and promote a culturally competent aged care workforce. TAFE providers could take up provision of education in this field and it is worthy of inclusion in the free stream of courses recently provided to TAFE Colleges in Victoria.
Appropriate access to housing services for older culturally diverse people in regional Victoria is a clearly defined need. The CALD community would profit from a series of community education services to culturally diverse seniors, and ethno-specific and multicultural organisations in regional Victoria to help them better understand and access available aged care services.
Federal and Victorian governments ought assess and rectify public transport gaps and the availability of community transport for local residents, including isolated seniors, in regional Victoria.
The Way Forward
The ability to access care is essential for the health and wellbeing of culturally diverse older people living in regional Victoria. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria believes that further research is needed to assess service gaps to culturally diverse seniors in regional Victoria. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria looks forward to working with Government, research institutes, ethno-specific and multicultural community organisations, health and aged care providers, and peak bodies to improve access of culturally diverse older people to aged care services.