Aug 31, 2017

Aged Care for The Forgotten: Elderly and Homeless

Most people in aged care are admitted by loved ones, family and friends, who want the best care for them.

But what about older Australians who don’t have families to help them transition into aged care? Or those who find themselves homeless with nowhere to go?

Michael Deschepper from Wintringham Specialist Aged Care spoke at the Dementia Care Delivery Summit about this section of older Australians.

According to the ABS, 14,851 people aged 55 and over were experiencing homelessness on Census night 2011.

This is approximately one out of seven people counted as experiencing homelessness in Australia.

Deschepper explained that the people Wintringham aimed to help this group of people that society often forgot.

That these people seen are “elderly and homeless”, not “homeless and elderly” – emphasising that their homelessness is a circumstance, but it doesn’t define them as people.

“They are entitled to aged care funding, but no one was willing to give it to them”.

Typical aged care client, as Deschepper explained, are “older, middle class and expectant of services, with an advocating son/daughter lobbying on their behalf.”

This is a drastic contrast to the people Wintringham try to help.

Many of them are younger, under 65, working class and due to circumstance and background age drastically prematurely. But because they are younger, they are not eligible for aged care despite needing it.

With little to no family support, these people are often reluctant to accept services and assistance. They are untrusting because many have had trouble with the law and maybe even served jail time.

However, these people still have a right to care just as much as the “traditional” aged client.

Aged Care for Those with Brain Injuries

Many of the people that Wintringham help have had difficult lives. Many of whom have abused drugs and alcohol and find that in their later years struggling with brain damage.

People living with alcohol-related brain injury (ARBI) receive less empathy and often attract more judgemental attitudes in the public view than people living with age-related dementias.

This group often exhibit complex and challenging behaviours that would not be placed in traditional aged care due to safety concerns.

Older people with acquired brain injury and associated complex behaviours require a different model of care – something that Wintringham are focussed on developing.

The Wicking Project, a collaboration with JO & JR Wicking Trust, works to help a unique group of people in the hopes to transition them into a Wintringham facility.

The Wicking Project centred on a research trial that investigated the effectiveness of a specialised model of residential care in improving the life quality and well being of individuals with extremely challenging behaviours resulting from an ARBI.

Wicking aims to develop  strategies that support older people with complex needs to transition and remain out of homelessness.

The project has currently gone through two different trials, and are looking to expand so that everyone who needs aged care – regardless of their background or their injury – can receive it.   

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