Readers may have noticed that I have already written a couple of posts about care for the elderly. That was partly because my mother was, until recently, in an aged care facility. Sadly, she passed away last week. And I’m going to be writing more on this topic. Perhaps much more.
We here in Australia, recently conducted a Royal Commission into aged care. We’ve had earlier inquiries. We need some positive action. This is an issue that will eventually be faced by every single Australian, barring those who die young. That necessary changes are continually being shelved for further consideration, etc, whilst time and resources are found to ruminate over navel-gazing issues like gender pronouns, or problems faced by 1% of the population (think confusion re: gender) is worse than ridiculous … it’s simply appalling.
I have to confess that I have yet to study the final report of the last big inquiry, and I’m not sure when I will. What I’m going to delve into in this post is my own experience with navigating the Australian aged care system, looking at both its positive and negative aspects.
(21 December 2021: Note that what follows is only a working draft at this stage. Feel free to submit comments and/or make suggestions)
Many of the people that work in the industry – from some of the carers at the aged care coalface, to some of the public servants in relevant agencies, to many of those working in related charities and non-government organisations.
The outward appearance of most of the newer aged care facilities.
The considerable amount of money that’s already made available each year by the government
The negatives (Phew, get ready for this lot)
The cost of living in an aged care home if you don’t qualify for full government support. By way of example, my mother paid more that $200 per day, as she had appreciable savings/investments.
The difficulty in accessing and understanding information about aged care services that are currently available. And that’s even in those cases where the elderly are being actively assisted by family members.
The out-of-date, conflicting, and impractical information being provided by those working in the industry, even when the information/advice provided is often entirely well-meaning.
The limited social interaction for residents, for example, regular visits by family members, voluntary visitor schemes, etc.
The big gap between the posters on the walls, and in web sites, etc, about how a facility is run, the services it provides, about listening to the needs of residents via regular meetings, etc … and what actually happens in real-life.
Staff turnover, staff rotation (and staff shortages) with regards to those providing face to face care for the aged.
The level and nature of social and recreational activities available for the aged. The social/living environment in the homes, e.g. residents wailing, the continual noise of call-buttons pressed and beckoning carers to come and attend to specific residents.
The growing problem of intermixing residents with intellectual/ emotional/behavioural problems (incl. dementia) with the mainstream resident population. This is due in part to the increasing age of residents and hence the increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s and related problems.
Lack of sufficient attention by nursing staff leading to problems that include the assault/intimidation of residents by other residents, residents being routinely told to relieve themselves into their adult diapers rather than staff taking them to the bathroom (which may require 2 or even 3 staff for larger unsteady residents). This then leads to further problems such as residents being left to lie for extended periods of time in urine-soaked bed sheets.