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Deinstitutionalisation

A significant number of people with disability continue to live long term in health care facilities, including public hospitals, authorised mental health units and other psychiatric facilities. This has been an area of ongoing advocacy for successive Public Advocates.

Although the numbers fluctuate, the latest figures available from Queensland Health (as at 26 May 2021) indicate that 549 people are currently long-stay patients in Queensland Health facilities, being:

  • 237 long-stay younger patients
  • 312 long-stay older patients

During the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, significant work was undertaken by Queensland Health, supported by the NDIS, to reduce the number of long-stay patients residing in health facilities. This work did have promising initial results however, now that the intensive focus has been withdrawn, numbers have increased back to pre-pandemic levels.

In line with the recommendations of the Upholding the Right to Life and Health report released by the Public Advocate in 2016, the Public Advocate will continue to advocate for a coordinated approach between Queensland Health, Hospital and Health Services across Queensland, general practitioners, Primary Health Networks and the NDIS to ensure that younger people with disability and complex health conditions can be safely discharged from hospitals and other health care facilities and maintain their health and wellbeing while living in the community.

For long-stay older patients, the Public Advocate is continuing to liaise with guardianship and administration agencies like QCAT and the Public Guardian as well as Queensland Health regarding the appropriateness and the availability of advocates for people involved in processes like in-hospital guardianship hearings. The availability of aged care packages (particularly for people who want to remain living at home) is also an ongoing issue.