This Resource Centre aims to support you in your journey by providing a broad range of relevant information; including fact sheets, faqs and useful links.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is it possible for a young person in Australia to end up living in a nursing home?

There are many reasons why young people are finding themselves living in nursing homes.

There are any number of paths that result in young people finding themselves living in a nursing home.

Discharge from hospital

One of the most common circumstances is following admission to acute hospital care. They may have been admitted for any number of reasons, such as:

  • catastrophic acquired brain injury (ABI) or spinal cord injury through an accident, (non-compensable) motor vehicle accident, assault or near drowning.
  • stroke
  • heart attack, or
  • an episode or sharp decline in a progressive disease such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s Disease.

Acquired disabilities such as these are not covered under a workcover or motor vehicle accident scheme, and therefore the young person is forced to rely on the family income, and/or more likely the grossly underfunded state disability system to support and provide for all their needs.

Once acute care is no longer needed, the hospital, understandably, looks to discharge the person as soon as is possible in order to free a bed for the next person in need. At this point a problem is presented – the young person is not able to return to their previous circumstance for one or multiple reasons:

  • Constant medical assistance is needed to maintain their health
  • Extra carer support is needed for their daily care and living activities
  • The family home is not adapted for their needs – accessible bathrooms, stairs etc
  • The family does not have vital and expensive equipment, such as a hoist or pressure mattress, available to them

Applications for support can always be made to the state government disability services, however unfortunately they often simply do not have the funding available. They will not be able to provide enough funding for the young person to live at home or elsewhere with their family and community. There are limited supported accommodation places available with very long waiting lists.

So, where is the young person to go? They cannot stay in the hospital forever and they do not have enough support or funding to move back into the community. Systemically, the disability systems are asked to support the very high needs of these young people, and this is just not possible for a system that is chronically underfunded.

When this happens the default option becomes aged care. Unfortunately, for both the young person and the nursing home, although they often do their best to support these young people, aged care is not set up to support these young people. Their purpose is to support older people with steadily declining needs. They just do not have the equipment, staff levels or medical knowledge to look after the health and wellbeing of a young person with fluctuating and very individual needs.

Other paths to aged care

Other common paths resulting in aged care entry include:

  • The primary carer, often parents, becoming too old or unwell to continue in the intensive caring role that they may have had for decades.
  • The young person lives in a rural area and cannot access the appropriate accommodation or support they need to maintain their health.
  • The young person, their family and carers are not adequately informed on the options available. They may have been inadvertently misinformed, simply do not know where to find the information, or that it even exists!

Very often, once a young person is placed in a nursing home, disability services considers them much less of a priority for funding or placement in more suitable accommodation. They then find themselves without enough support for their physical health needs, resulting in constant health crises and admissions to hospital, not to mention the almost complete absence of connection with their friends, community and family.

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