While some older people are enjoying their wealth – travelling the world, their luggage broadcasting that they are spending their children’s inheritance – others live in aged care homes, with their children keeping their eyes peeled on the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’.
Recently, a woman contacted me because a 94-year-old woman was resuscitated in an aged care home despite having an advance care plan stipulating Do Not Resuscitate. Rather than die peacefully after breakfast, this woman had a slow and painful death in a hospital palliative care unit.
A confidential internal inquiry into the office of the Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt was leaked to the media during the recent election campaign. The journalist described the leaker as a “whistle blower.”
Whistle blowers are honourable people who are motivated by altruistic intentions. Anonymous disgruntled staff members who are dissatisfied with the outcome of an internal grievance process are not whistle blowers.
I have never worked in Minister Wyatt’s office so I do not have inside knowledge. However, this leak had all the markings of a political attack.
Our democracy depends on the robust contest of policies. Yet so far the federal election campaign has been dominated by personal insults, pork barrelling and heated discussions about preference deals. I’ve hardly heard a whisper from candidates about their party’s aged care policies.
I am standing as a candidate for Reason Australia in my local electorate (Cooper in inner city Melbourne) so I can put aged care in the election spotlight. Reason brings an evidence-based approach to all its policies, including aged care policies.
Aged care needs evidence-based, not opinion-based, policies. It also needs kindness. Rather than listen to the opinions of the usual suspects who are part of the broken system that has failed older Australians, we need new thinking. To quote Albert Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”.
Talk given to Leadership team of Care Connect on March 25 2019
I initially chose to publish this article anonymously. When some of the bullies named in the article made threats, including physical intimidation, I suggested Hellocare remove the article from their website until I found time to re-write the article. I am named as the author of the revised article.
Legislation mandates open disclosure in all public health services in Australia. However, there is no legislative requirement for open disclosure in an aged care home.
The media has been reporting story after story of appalling treatment in aged care homes. But aged care is much more than residential care. It also includes home care packages and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme.
Opinion Piece in Michael West