The aged care royal commission is uncovering widespread and disturbing problems in residential and at home services. Peter Leith gives his view on the root of the issues.
Peter Leith is 90 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but he has the vigor of an opinionated 30-year-old layered with decades of wisdom and experience.
Each year, the Australian aged care industry presents a number of state and national seminars and conferences.
Expert ‘guest speakers’ from throughout Australia and overseas include academics from teaching or research fields, aged care workers, senior executives of aged care facilities and medical specialists in gerontology, dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Workshops and panel discussions or ‘forums’ are a feature of these events. The ‘panels’ rarely, if ever, include people who are elderly or who are in residential care themselves.
Once, (but only once) as a then 84-year-old, I was invited to join such a panel as an old but “non-resident-in-aged-care” person. The other two ‘oldies’ on the panel were residents of a facility run by a not-for-profit organisation.
This session, and the panel discussion, was very poorly attended and only by ‘frontline workers’. None of the guest speakers, or ‘stars’, attended.
For me, both then and ever since, this has illustrated the fact that the aged care industry talks about and down to its customer base, but seldom talks with them.
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