Jody and brother Brendan McDonald have struggled for two years to get their father, Steven McDonald, disability support accommodation. He has been in hospital for two years as a result.
Jody and brother Brendan McDonald have struggled for two years to get their father, Steven McDonald, disability support accommodation. He has been in hospital for two years as a result. Ava Benny-Morrison

Community care for disabled 'bigger problem than recognised'

THE magnitude of the problem surrounding people with disabilities, stuck in Queensland hospitals while they wait for community care, will be gauged through a government-led review.

The move follows reports that Mackay brain injury patient Steven McDonald has been living at the Princess Alexandra Hospital for 18 months awaiting funding from Disability Services Queensland to help him move back into the community.

When asked for an up-to-date figure on how many people mirrored Mr McDonald's dire situation, Queensland Health could only provide the results of a survey taken in March last year.

YoungCare, a not-for-profit group helping people aged under 65 with disabilities secure care and housing in the community, said the problem was bigger than the community recognised.

"It's an issue the general public have not heard much about, but it's a pretty big issue to try and put numbers on," YoungCare policy and research manager Anna Cox said.

"The problem is very likely bigger than we know and it's critical it can't go on and be a sleeper issue for any longer."

Ms Cox said keeping a person in hospital was a tragic outcome for the patient and family involved and a bad outcome for Queensland taxpayers.

Ahead of a meeting with YoungCare on the issue, Queensland Health confirmed it would update current figures in the second half of this year.

"In the second half of this year, Department of Health will undertake an update of the March 2012 state-wide survey of long-stay patients with a disability in public health facilities (including public hospitals, long-stay residential facilities and residential aged care facilities), to further inform our understanding of these patients and their support needs," a spokeswoman said.

"The updated information will inform service planning to assist young people with a disability to move through the system faster once their treatment is complete."

The March 2012 survey found there were 283 long-term patients with disabilities in health and hospital facilities across the state, including 64 patients in acute care.

The cost of keeping a patient with a disability in hospital is more than $1000 a day.



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