Landmark new report reveals confronting aged care experiences

A landmark new report has revealed older people receiving aged care continued to endure unacceptable and confronting experiences across Australia in 2020-21.


The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) said the NACAP Presenting Issues Report 2020/21, launched at its AGM 30 November 2021, is the first definitive public annual report which captures the experiences of older people engaging with the aged care system.


Some of the most commonly presented issues included unwanted admissions to residential care, increased risk of abuse facilitated by COVID-19 restrictions, a lack of available assessment services and long wait times for support.


OPAN CEO, Craig Gear OAM, said the report reflects many of the issues raised in the Aged Care Royal Commission, highlighting that more work needs to be done to improve the aged case system.


“We acknowledge the Australian Government’s commitment to transform the aged care system and were pleased to see it’s significant investment in the May budget as a big first step,” Mr Gear said.


“It is important to acknowledge that while the transformation of the aged care system has begun, it is not yet fixed, and older people are still enduring confronting experiences.


"The issues our aged care advocates are seeing are impacting significantly on older people and we feel compelled to raise their voices to inform the change that is needed.


“It also reinforces why further investment in, and transformation of, the aged care system is required and why aged care advocacy is so important.”


OPAN Board Chair, Mary Anne Hunt, said “this report is an important opportunity to continue improving sector wide shortfalls and older people's lived experiences.


Mr Gear said, “We will continue to advocate with older Australians to ensure their voices are heard and that systemic issues impacting their lives are addressed by government, service providers and other agencies responsible for aged and community care services.”


The NACAP Presenting Issues Report 2020/21 identified eight top presenting issues which included:

  • Residential care – quality of care, care planning and security of tenure.
  • COVID related issues – lack of communication with families, visitor restrictions, quality of care concerns, reduced access to social supports.
  • The abuse of older people – misuse of enduring power of attorney, financial abuse, increased risk of abuse due to COVID-19, unwanted admission into residential care.
  • Assessment services – lack of service availability, inappropriate triaging of assessments, long wait times.
  • Commonwealth Home Support Program – lack of service availability particularly in rural and remote areas, workforce shortages, increase in CHSP requests.
  • Home care packages – extended waiting period, fees, communication with providers, workforce shortages.
  • Diverse and marginalised groups – understanding and accessing the system, culturally appropriate and trauma informed care, family and financial abuse.
  • Transition care, short-term restorative care and respite – accessing transitional care from hospital, quality of care, lack of transparent costs.


The report has been informed by an analysis of the qualitative data captured in OPAN’s member’s quarterly reporting through 2020-21, and also includes case studies of older people’s experiences, some of which are quite distressing.


For information or support regarding aged care, please call the Older Persons Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600 or visit


6 December 2021.