Marie Dowling who lives alone in a retirement village in North Fitzroy, Victoria told the Commission she felt anguish and desperation when accessing My Aged Care and indeed when she was offered a home care package after one year on the waitlist.
The 84 year old is legally blind and wears a hearing aid, requiring specialised support within her home.
“I really had only the telephone to make inquiries on and it was very difficult.
”I really had no idea which providers would be suited for my special needs.”
She says the written material, when provided to her by My Aged Care, was often vague and difficult to process.
“There seemed to be no recognition of the fact that I was registered disabled.”
Describing the challenging process of contacting My Aged Care and researching providers, Ms Dowling says she did the best she could and felt it was her responsibility to organise her care.
“I had tried my best and there seemed to be a lot of referring to other people who may be able to help me and they turned out to really not be all that helpful.”
She says accessibility barriers faced by My Aged Care caused anguish and desperation.
“I felt absolutely at a loss.
“Being unable to find help was so stressful and I really felt de-personalised, worthless, unable to organise my own care and I really felt demoralised by the entire process.”
She says for older people with disability, many of whom have never used computers, the online platform of My Aged Care is “really useless.”
“It would be necessary for every disabled person trying to access My Aged Care to be eligible for suitable help at the expense of the Commonwealth in order to assist them to get into My Aged Care.”
Although initially approved for a Level 2 home care package, Ms Dowling is now on the waiting list for a Level 3 home care package, signalling a further 12 month waiting period.
Citing a lack of continuity, Ms Dowling also says different support workers often attended her home each week and in her opinion, many lack relevant training.
“I was allocated a Level 2 home care package which provides 3.5 hours a week, which is barely enough to do essential tasks like reading the incoming mail, filing and computer work
She believes she should've been approved for a Level 3 home care package originally.
“I require a higher level of service than the ordinary cleaning, shopping and showers level.”
Ms Dowling is calling on the Commission to establish a thorough review into the engagement of older Australians with disability who are already accessing My Aged Care and those on the waiting list.
“There has to be help for disabled people.”
Hearings for the Royal Commission continue tomorrow at 10am.