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 30 June 2023) indicate that 780 people are currently long-stay patients in Queensland Health facilities, being:
- 241 long-stay younger patients
- 539 long-stay older patients
Discharge barriers continue to be related to, for younger patients, NDIS plan approval and accommodation delays; while for older patients the availability of residential aged care facility places can delay discharge.
While welcoming of agency efforts to reduce these numbers, including Queensland Health’s Long Stay Rapid Response Team, the Public Advocate continues to have concerns regarding the number of patients remaining in health facilities (who are essentially institutionalised), as well as about the facilitation of appropriate and sustainable discharge solutions.
The Public Advocate is continuing to liaise with Queensland Health and other appropriate agencies, including QCAT and the NDIA, to address these issues and work towards sustainable solutions to facilitate the safe discharge of people with disability from hospital environments back into the community.