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Aged care not in their DNA: A damning report the government cannot ignore

It is not as though we haven’t been forewarned about the urgent need to attend to the crisis in aged care.

Numerous reports, over many years, have shown that the sector is in dire need of attention.

That the government is so reluctant to address any of the problems brings shame on them and our nation.

For a country that has enjoyed so much success in so many areas, it is sometimes more appropriate to put this down to luck rather than industrious thinking by government.

Despite words of assertive action by the government it is hard to see that, given its reluctance to spend a dollar that might affect its need for a public relations surplus, that they will have the money to spend on aged care. And I mean real money

The interim report by the Royal Commission into Australia’s Aged Care sector found that “cruel and harmful” attitudes prevailed.

That it has been so for many years is, without doubt, a smear on the nation.

The report also said that the sector was “fragmented, unsupported, underfunded,” and very much unsafe and uncaring.

That we could be so uncaring of the needs of our most vulnerable citizens who are at the end of their lives is tantamount to a crime against humanity.

The responsibility for this shame, this “shocking tale of neglect” as the two commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs have described is the result of many years of neglect.

The report described the industry as having a “culture of ageism.”

What a way to describe the treatment of our aged seniors as the sunset of life sets upon them; a time that should be as loving as their beginning.

The Interim Report released on Thursday, titled Neglect, listed a litany of problems that the commission described as needing urgent attention. “Unkind and uncaring,” “a shocking tale of neglect” were among the words of condemnation of the government’s inaction.

“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

The report also said that Australia’s aged care sector might not be financially sustainable.

How embarrassing it must be for the minister, let alone the government, to hear these words of judgement after nearly 7 years of conservative neglect.

To say that they must feel dreadful for the appalling way they have allowed the treatment of our aged to go on unchecked would be futile.

They have done it deliberately, for several reasons, all of which relate to economics.

The first of course, and most current, is that to spend the money needed to correct what needs to be done would mean the prevention of a surplus and the second also includes the conservative philosophical principle that such things should be paid for by the individual or his/her family.

Do you think we would ever have a National Health Scheme or an NDIS without Labor? Of course not. These things are deeply ingrained in Labor’s blood.

It was only the budget before last that the Coalition removed the $1000 funeral benefit paid to pensioners to help with the cost of burying their loved ones. How pitiful. On this, the report said that:

“By any measure, this is a cruel and discriminatory system, which places great strain on older Australians and their relatives.”

“It is shocking that the express wishes of older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, with the supports they need, is downplayed with an expectation that they will manage. It is unsafe practice. It is neglect.”

The report rightfully confronts what it describes as our country’s “ageist” mindset, a culture that has led to an irrelevant view of how we see ageing and end of life ethics.

Too often we view our ageing relatives as a burden, an obligation, even an encumbrance without a thought for their life’s journey and our involvement in it. The report surmises that:

“As a nation, Australia has drifted into an ageist mindset that undervalues older people and limits their possibilities.”

There is a moral obligation on Australians to care for the aged that we have never taken seriously. We have allowed self-interest, even the selfishness of inheritance to invade our thinking instead of the clear-mindedness of love.

Why we find such compelling reasons to treat each other badly is beyond me.

Even when old and frail the difference between being alive and truly living can still, with proper care, be experienced.

A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds.

Although Labor are not lily-white in this area, having shown little interest when in power, it can mount a defence with its many reforms in other areas.

The Coalition’s neglect, however, cannot be excused. They need to invest heavily in those areas the Commission has identified.

This in part requires for fundamental reform of the system with more home care packages, action to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraints in the sector and removing young people with disabilities from aged care. The report concludes that:

“By any measure, this is a cruel and discriminatory system, which places great strain on older Australians and their relatives.”

After nearly 7 years in power, this is yet another example of just how inept this government has been. They deserve the strongest condemnation by the public and those involved in the sector.

Note. As Treasurer Scott Morrison in 2016 ripped $1.6 B.J. from the aged care sector.

My thought for the day

We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.

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13 comments

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  1. New Engand Cocky

    Agreed. But Australian voters get the government they voted for, so could this be a self-inflicted wound?

  2. Terence Mills

    There is a fundamental contradiction in Aged care for Profit !

  3. Alan Nosworthy

    Apparently if you’ve had your go you don’t get a go, you got to go, and the devil take the hindmost.

  4. Awashwithcolour

    The government really doesn’t care about Royal commissions into anything.
    They only care about “the Precious”, the surplus.
    The elderly needs better care for the final years of their lives and we as a nation needs to put pressure on the government.
    This is just one more area that the LNP have ripped funding from.
    My mother in law is in a very posh nursing home which required $500,000 bond for a room.
    It also costs us $1,800.00 on her staying there each month!
    She’s 94 years old and disabled from strokes. For her to remain in her home became untenable. Eventually about 3 years ago she had a fall and we had no options other than finding a nursing home.
    The nursing home industry makes huge profits off the elderly.
    The Regis brand made over thirty million profit off the aged care sector. She’s in a Regis nursing home at Port Stephens.
    Then there’s the lower end of the scale where we’ve seen what happens to frail old people who are abused and mistreated and fed inferior food.
    I told my daughter that l never want to be put in such a place. I’d rather be dead when it gets down to it. Because we’ve had investigations and royal commissions into the aged care sector and nothing has changed it’s just gotten worse.
    Remember Bronwyn Bishop and the kerosene baths scandal?

  5. Keitha Granville

    Can anyone work out how much the previous 18 reports have cost? That would have been better spent on Aged Care.

    Can we please have a system that ensures governments MUST follow the recommendations of any reports they commission, otherwise don’t have them. Why pretend they care when they are just shuffling the deckchairs.

  6. Aortic

    In either aged care or general hospitals health and wealth should never be mentioned in the same sentence. You are so right John without Labor initiatives there would be no NDIS or National Health Scheme. The private sector is there for one thing, making a profit and if minimal staff numbers and minimal training will increase that, to hell with those entrusted to their care. The population is getting older and of the government don’t act decisively they will stand condemned as blindly adhering to their private enterprise has all the answers mantra. Look at the state of health provision in the USA as an example of leave it to that sector. How many times do they need to be told to take action? And now we have to wait another twelve months to be told the bleeding obvious!

  7. DrakeN

    Terence Mills November 2, 2019 at 7:47 am

    “There is a fundamental contradiction in Aged care for Profit !”

    Indeed, but as merely one component of the contradiction in social and community services for profit.

    “There is no such thing as society…” Margaret Thatcher (dec.)

    🎼 “Ding, Dong, the Witch is dead…”

  8. wam

    My 5 ft 3 mum was a gentle caring woman but the last six years of her life were in dementia. She was fit, strong and developed a straight left and right cross that floored any unsuspecting victim old or young. Nobody was safe day or night. We talked dad into prolonging like with an operation and he spent 6 months in bed unable to speak eyes pleading. There is certainly no mercy and no god.
    The problem is huge and, how right you are waltz of the cuckoo, the solution is not for profit.

  9. Michael

    Behold, the diabolical efficiencies of Capitalism. The old, the weak, and the sick must die first, so the oligarchs can have their bombs, mansions, and child sex. And the “prosperity gospel” is total BS. Supreme corruption.

  10. Kaye Lee

    What do you see, people, what do you see?
    What are you thinking, when you look at me
    A crabby old woman, not very wise.
    Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes,
    Who dribbles her food and makes no reply.
    When you say in a loud voice “I do wish you’d try!
    Who seems not to notice the things that you do.
    And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
    Who, unresisting or not; lets you do as you will.
    With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
    Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
    Then open your eyes, you’re not looking at me.

    I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still!
    As I rise at your bidding, as I eat at your will.
    I’m a small child of 10 with a father and mother,
    Brothers and sisters, who loved one another.
    A young girl of 16 with wings on her feet,
    Dreaming that soon now a lover she’ll meet.
    A bride soon at 20 – my heart gives a leap,
    Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
    At 25 now I have young of my own
    Who need me to build a secure happy home.
    A woman of 30, my young now grow fast,
    Bound to each other with ties that should last.

    At 40, my young sons have grown and are gone,
    But my man’s beside me to see I don’t mourn.
    At 50 once more babies play around my knee,
    Again we know children, my loved one and me.
    Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead,
    I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
    For my young are all rearing young of their own.
    And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
    I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel,
    ‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
    The body is crumbled, grace and vigor depart,
    There is now a stone where I once had a heart.

    But inside this old carcass, a young girl still dwells,
    And now and again my battered heart swells.
    I remember the joy, I remember the pain,
    And I’m loving and living life over again.
    I think of the years all too few – gone too fast,
    And accept the stark fact that nothing can last.
    So open your eyes, people, open and see,
    Not a crabby old woman, LOOK CLOSER, SEE ME.

  11. John Lord

    So true to life. I have a contribution.

    The Boat

    The tranquil water illustrates
    The passing of a storm
    The boat tells its story
    The journey life’s sojourn
    The picture is of stillness
    The ocean calm serene
    The clouds look down upon
    The sea that has no end
    The boat is not perfect
    The hull in need of work
    The boat it seeks calm waters
    The sand its final rest
    The boat is at its journeys end
    The boat has had its day
    The boat seeks a place to lay
    The boat no longer sways
    The people who have rowed her
    The journey has an end
    The resting place is near the shore
    The waves they come and end
    The boat will lay in final rest
    The people take a final breath
    The horizon meets the sunset
    The end of life has come

  12. Bryan Farrow

    What can you expect when the priority for essential services has shifted from providing a service to making a profit, at any cost.
    You only have to look at health, (medicare to private health insurance), energy, water, transport, education, communication (nbn fraudband), etc etc.
    And to top it off, ‘trickle down economics’, as championed by the enemies of the common man, the lying nazi party.

  13. Josephus

    Having fled a cruel regime in Europe in her 20s, my late mother used to say rightly or wrongly that she admired rationed and besieged England because that nation, unlike the one she had left behind, fed the vulnerable very young and the old first. Where would that apply today?
    Why does modern medicine prolong our lives if at the end we are tortured, bashed, assaulted, left to lie in our human waste for hours, or on the floor crying? Legalise euthanasia, or go further, kill off anyone vulnerable of any age as soon as they are of no use.
    I recall a visit to my godmother in London long ago. The place was expensive, and it stank of urine.
    Remember you selfish bastards who govern, you too will be old one day.

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