Apr 20, 2018

The Today Show Shines A Week Spotlight On Aged Care, Open Discussion Must Continue

For those of us that don’t have loved ones in aged care, it is a foreign thing to lay awake at night worrying about their wellbeing.

For many Australians this is a current and perpetual feeling.

With mums and dads in aged care, countless Australians have been concerned as to the wellbeing and health of their loved ones in aged care facilities.

Allegations of neglect, abuse and extensive negligence at the hands of aged care facilities and staff have been coming to light and The Today Show has turned it’s gaze to uncover some of the personal stories.

This gaze has turned to uncovering stories of families that have gone through a great deal at the hands of some workers in the aged care sector.

With powerful stories rising to public attention, partnered with undeniable evidence of misconduct in the industry an unfortunate end to this discussion would be to only remain in anger at the industry at large.

While many facilities have been found to have fallen short of any reasonable standard there remain facilities and workers that have tirelessly been attempting to provide quality and personal care.

An important element of using national coverage of a topic is to seek a full and in-depth discussion.

To seek information from families, from loved ones residing in facilities but also from workers who have been in the industry for decades, from providers that have been advocating for change for decades.

To glean an immersive, full sided insight into the industry so that the most vulnerable benefit.

While the Minister for Health, the honourable Mr Ken Wyatt maintains that “we have a aged care sector and an aged care system that is world class, the quality of care provided serve our seniors well” in the wake of countless reviews and reports that have been conducted over the past few months, the true extent of the issues within the aged care space is slowly unfolding.

Today’s Georgie Gardner comments on the recent closure of the Oakden facility, “The corruption commissioner described this facility as a shameful episode in South Australia’s history. The report details accounts of residents being made to deliberately fall over, dragged to the toilette and even being left with faeces in their hair”.

Frankly and pointedly there are countless elements of the industry and system that need to be addressed.

It is to solutions, powerful solutions with action that this discussion and gaze into the aged care industry must turn.

Solutions in legislation at the federal and state level, regulation policies that strike to the heart of loopholes and maladministration tendencies and for that to occur everyone must be consulted.

Who better to give insight into the running of facilities than carers who have proven themselves advocates for their patients, who have been grieved by the failings of some of their counterparts.

A coalition of patients, families, nurses, doctors, carers, politicians and media must maintain open dialogue and transparent discussion to secure real and sustained protection for our senior citizens.

With such findings and evidence confirming instances of gross misconduct and abuse, many are voicing their suggestions for solutions towards the protection of this vulnerable subset of our society.

Anita Volkert of Occupation Therapy Australia highlights that “within the life of the vulnerable older person who may not easy be able to communicate a video surveillance might be helpful”.

Noleen Hausler, who discovered the harrowing treatment of her dad through her establishing her video camera, believes that “The CCTVs will happen, it is a matter of when, we don’t have any other tool to tell us what is happening otherwise”.

Potential solutions such as these that are coming to fore through the discussion that has opened up must continue.

In this area that is a personal reality for so many Australians, Patricia Meekin, who with her husband in care has gone through much, powerfully speaks into the discussion by calling on all Australian’s to tell their stories, “Please speak out, say something, all this will help”.

We are many, but we are one, when there is hardship and pain, to come together and listen, to seek the truth and create change is how good slowly but irrefutably comes.

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  1. It is disappointing that there has been no discussion on this page. No one has come up with any suggestions for solving these issues. None of your readers has a solution.

    The French philosopher Michelle Foucault has written about the relationship between power and the way we think. He explored the way powerful people and groups successfully control the way we think and so how we behave and even what we will put up with. Much of that power comes from their control over the sort of information we get. What we are being told in aged care is not true. Your readers silence suggests that are trapped in patterns of thought that don’t offer a solution.

    A very recent article in The Conversation “Kidnapped democracy: how can citizens escape?” on 26 April 2018 examines the way in which our democracy has been kidnapped by powerful interest groups and the way in which citizens (civil society) have simply been pushed aside and controlled.

    The article concludes “the key to renewal surely lies in new democratic mechanisms and forms of citizen participation that are capable of ending the concentrations of power that are kidnapping our democracies and victimising their citizens”. If we as a community want change then we must change the power structure in society.

    We as a community are individually and together responsible for the welfare of our fellows when they are in need – not government and not the market. They are only doing it on our behalf and it is our responsibility to ensure that they do it properly – but that is not the way the powerful want us to think. They know we would make them do it differently.

    Aged Care Crisis is pressing for a locally based empowered visitors scheme supported by, working with and directly accountable to local community organisations – organisations that would be working in the community and in nursing homes, so in regular contact with management. This would ensure transparency because we would have the information. There would be a representative body working with government. With this shift in power, we, as a community, should be able to insist that providers of care stop ignoring us and instead work with us to develop the sort of system we want.

    Professor Ian Maddocks, Senior Australian of the year (2013), advocated for a similar change to aged care in 2014. This was to be led by the medical profession and involve community. His colleagues did not support him. We think it is time for the community to step up, take the lead, insist on this sort of change – then involve the medical profession in supporting us so that we can realise Maddocks’ community driven vision for aged care.

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