I am going to share with you an article in The Age recently written by Dr Kathleen Brasher who believes that language shapes our sense of place and that residential aged care facilities are places that our most vulnerable older people call home; the home that will, for most, be their last place on earth. The term “facility” dehumanises aged care. Facilities are built to perform functions in the most efficient manner. In contrast, a home is a welcoming place, where friends and family drop in for a cuppa or a chat, and, if we need help, assist us around the house, the garden or even with dressing.
Dr Brasher adds that since the 1990s successive governments have failed to heed the forecasts of demographers on population ageing. Now with the need for housing and care options exceeding the capacity of families and communities, an investment boom is taking place. Private equity firms, foreign investors and superannuation and property real estate investment trusts are entering the residential aged care market in larger numbers. And they are building larger facilities.
I am certainly on the same page as Dr Brasher, as I continuously hear horrendous stories of the mistreatment of our frail and elderly in aged care “facilities” and the frustration and hopelessness felt by families as they attempt to rectify these issues. There are few openings for families to make complaints as government departments appear to be “toothless tigers” in improving unsatisfactory, and in some cases, negligent treatment of our elderly. Or they are simply not interested.
Disputes between family members as to the care of an elderly parent adds to the trauma. These disputes shout out for intervention by elder mediation, where an unbiased and independent mediator can facilitate discussions between family members, with the focus on what is the best interests of the elder parent.
Your comments would be welcome as I believe more complaints should be made to authorities to protect the lives of the elderly people who have worked hard and spent most of their lives giving to, and improving, our families and communities.
You can read the article here
Dr Kathleen Brasher is a member of the WHO strategic advisory committee for the Global Network of Age Friendly Communities