Seniors Rights Victoria brings clients’ voices to the aged care and mental health Royal Commissions

Seniors Rights Victoria (SRV) is drawing on the experiences of clients to make recommendations to current Royal Commissions into aged care quality and safety and Victoria’s mental health system.

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

Our recent submission to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety focused on how ageism can see older people stripped of their decision-making rights. While living in residential aged care, some SRV clients have had their independence and decision-making powers curtailed through the improper use of enduring powers of attorney, guardianship and administration orders and advance care directives. Our submission detailed how these legal documents are sometimes deliberately used to restrict older people’s independence and decision-making.

To prevent this from happening, SRV recommended that service providers should move toward care practices that prioritise the will, preferences and rights of older people, whether or not they require decision-making support. We also recommended work to build aged care staff’s understanding of supported decision-making and the proper use of legal documents such as enduring powers of attorney.

Mental health and elder abuse

We’re also preparing a submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which is working to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness and attempting to solve system-wide issues.

Our submission will be based on the experiences of SRV clients who have experienced mental illness or who provide care for a family member with mental illness. It will explore some of the intersections between mental health and elder abuse. For example, elder abuse can cause stress, anxiety and depression; mental illness can also make a person more vulnerable to elder abuse, particularly if they are reliant on other people for their care needs. We will also discuss what can be done to improve services and support for older people and their families. Many SRV clients are older people caring for an adult child or other family member experiencing mental illness. Their role providing financial support, a place to live, care for grandchildren and help with daily tasks is unacknowledged and unsupported. We’ll be calling for more support for older people like these clients who are supporting someone with mental illness.