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Thursday, 8 June 1989
Page: 3667

Senator COOK —On 31 May Senator Calvert asked me a question concerning nursing home admissions in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Community Services and Health. An answer to that question was supplied to me by Dr Blewett. As it is a long answer, I wonder whether it would be more appropriate to incorporate it in Hansard. I seek leave to do so.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows-

In general, nursing homes are neither staffed nor equipped to provide care for people with psychiatric disorders. Most people with psychiatric disorders would not be helped by being admitted to a facility which is intended to provide nursing and personal care mainly for people with physical disabilities.

For these reasons I do not intend altering this section of the guidelines in response to the issues raised in the question.

The Section of the ``Guidelines for Approval of Admission to a Nursing Home'' relating to residents of State psychiatric institutions was adopted in 1986 following a large number of nursing home admission applications from such residents where the reason for admission was given as ``closure of hospital beds''. This type of application is still being received.

The Commonwealth cannot be expected to bear the cost of savings realised by State Governments when State institutions are closed down and the State fails to make appropriate alternative arrangements for their accommodation and care. It remains the responsibility of State Governments to continue to provide care for long term residents of State psychiatric institutions particularly when those residents are discharged because of closures. Alternative arrangements are the responsibility of the States not the Commonwealth.

For this reason, the Commonwealth guidelines do preclude persons who have been long term residents of State institutions from being approved for nursing home admission. However, the guidelines specifically state that exemptions may occur where the application fulfils the criteria for admission in the National Health Act section 40ab (3) and:

where the application is for admission to a special purpose home related to the person's disability; or

the applicant has been admitted to the State institution for an acute episode while still a nursing home patient, or where admission was for less than twelve months or three years in last five; and

the applicant suffers a long term physical illness, which overrides any psychiatric disorder or intellectual disability, and

the physical disability cannot be adequately managed in the State institution, and acute hospital care is not appropriate.

These exemptions would cover the case of a nursing home resident being required to have treatment for a temporary illness in a State institution and then wishing to return to a nursing home. There would therefore be nothing to prevent such a person from returning to the nursing home providing his or her physical and mental condition continued to require nursing home care.