The Hibiscus complex at the Cooinda Aged Care Facility in Gympie.
The Hibiscus complex at the Cooinda Aged Care Facility in Gympie.

’Time our elderly got respect they deserve and that’ll cost’

THE aged care crisis that the general public and main stream media has suddenly been made aware of has been decades in the making.

The rise of the baby boomers has brought it to the forefront as they confront an industry they want no place in.

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Successive governments have known and ignore the plight of those living and working in aged care.

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Younger people who live with disabilities, those with mental health issues often severe, source beds in residential care, as there is no longer a place for them to seek accommodation. As those streams were also progressively stripped on money.

The frail aged live side by side with these people, with staff trained in aged care and dementia often struggling to meet their needs which is unfair to all involved.

Dementia supplements that were to be used to assist staff with the needs of clients with challenging behaviours, were replaced with a "support services" farmed out to big providers, and difficult to source. Why? It was cost saving.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted what those of us in the industry have been saying for a long time, we are underfunded, understaffed and underpaid.

Grevillea Gardens on the Southside
Grevillea Gardens on the Southside

Registered staff (both enrolled and registered nurses) have been leaving the industry due to conditions, money and the stigma associated with working in a "nursing home" for years. The answer? Unregistered staff giving medications, creating unsafe working conditions for them, and those in their care.

It's time the federal government stopped passing the buck, and stood up and admitted what the industry knows. We are in a crisis of their making. Smaller facilities across the country are struggling to keep their doors open; if they go what becomes of their clients? The industry loses the good care provided by these facilities. The big providers are money making machines as evidenced by recent events in the southern states. Is that the industry we want? The industry we want our parents or ourselves cared for in?

Maserati owner Areti Arvanitis, the wife of Peter Arvanitis, founder of troubled aged-care operator Estia Health, with her pride and joy.
Maserati owner Areti Arvanitis, the wife of Peter Arvanitis, founder of troubled aged-care operator Estia Health, with her pride and joy.

The answer seems simple to those of us working in the aged care, more registered nurses in nursing homes. More carers providing care. More lifestyle staff creating an atmosphere of fun. More allied health staff to meet the clients needs.

We don't need yet another system to replace current funding models, replacing ACFI with another funding model will cost millions, none of which we will ever see.

It's time the aged citizen of our nation received the respect they deserve, and that will cost us. We have a medicare levy for the NDIS, why not one for the aged care system too?

Tracey Petersen, Monkland