“My nana has become racist – how can I prevent her from being rude to her carer?”

Prevent nana from being racist to carer

“My Nana has never been a racist in her life, but the other day she had an Indian lady come over to shower her and my Nana refused because of her nationality,” wrote a member of HelloCare’s Aged Care Worker Support Group on social media.

“Is there something my family should be doing or saying to Nana or to the [home care] company to prevent this happening again?” she asked

Sarah’s* grandmother had only recently moved to Australia, and was beginning to receive care in the home. But she refused to be showered by the capable and willing carer.

Sarah’s uncle, who is living with the grandmother, was “so embarrassed” and “felt so terrible for the poor lady who was just trying to do her job”. 

“This racism is new and she’s never acted this way before,” Sarah explained.

Sarah’s family members are of Samoan, Maori, African, Indian and Fijian heritage, and have always taken a multicultural view of the world.

“We’ve always been so accepting of others,” Sarah wrote, perplexed by her grandmother’s newfound views.

“We have such a multicultural family, so it’s been a massive shock to hear something like that come out of our Nana.”

Care should be the priority

Stories like these are familiar to Professor in Ageing and Health at University of Sydney, Lee-Fay Low.

The family’s priority should be supporting the woman’s care, Professor Low explained to HelloCare.

“If they can’t persuade her to accept help from the Indian carer, try to get another carer,” she suggested, adding that appropriate apologies should be made to the original carer. 

“Racism is often very deep-seated and really hard to change,” Professor Low said. “With such an intimate activity as bathing, I can understand how stigmas around touch and proximity might come into play.” 

Professor Low said it was common to request carers from similar backgrounds to the client or based on gender.

Though not certain why older people can have a tendency towards racist views, Professor Low said there is literature suggesting “a positive association between age and prejudice”.

“We are tough skinned”

Members of the support group responded to the post with advice and encouragement, and gave the perspective of those on the frontline in aged care.

“This is so, so common, so please don’t be hard on yourselves or your Nana,” one aged care worker wrote. “Please tell your uncle not to be embarrassed.

“When it comes to receiving care, the elderly are quite picky with who attends to them – it isn’t one size fits all. I’ve cared for elderly who have become like family and others who have hated me.”

“Abuse of any kind is unfortunately very common and part of our job, so we are tough skinned!

“I hope things get better in the future for your Nana. Finding comfort receiving care from strangers can take time.”

*Not her real name.

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  1. May be Your Granma might be more embarassed having to be showered
    Rather than being Racist.
    She may be feeling annoyed about needing to be showered .
    We like our independence
    Being showered may be about that and not the carer at all

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