Parents expectations in old age.pps Parents expectations in old age.pps
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We have a problem and it WILL affect YOU


A major problem has emerged over the last 5 years regarding the ability of our community to safely, competently and reliably staff positions to meet the needs of older people or younger people with a disability in Australia.  This issue and problem is reaching just about a crisis point for some agencies and families. This is an issue however that is usually not given the consideration it deserves until it is too late.


Just about everybody I know shudders at the thought of getting old. But a closer look reveals that people are worried about the consequence of becoming too frail or disabled. They are concerned about their capacity to influence the preservation of their quality of life. Many people I talk to are concerned about being relegated to a nursing home where the perception is that it does not have the resources to meet your individual needs.


So what is the alternative to ending up in an institution with the possibility of under skilled people and an understaffed overstretched workforce? 


There are a few retirement care options, but unfortunately these very well appointed 5 star options are often out of the financial reach of the average person with little assets and already feel disempowered.


Stay in your own home is a much touted mantra, citing quality of life, personal independence and empowerment, self advocacy and a swag of other idealistic but very important bench marks for our future.


So imagine this; you now have a disability either as a result of advancing years or as a result of another life consequence and you have battled the odds to avoid living in a nursing home.  You have also managed to organise and put in place for yourself a system comprised of services that provides you with home delivered meals, a home cleaning service a maintenance service, an emergency response service should you fall, and a personal care service.


All should come together to provide you with a cluster of services and keep you away from matron [now called Directors OF Care] knocking on your door!


Your independence is extremely important to you, and you don’t fancy any rookies a third your age insisting on you seeking their permission to use the telephone so you have tried very hard to avoid the merry dance of residential care in a nursing home.


The problem that you are about to discover now is, that despite your best efforts to cobble these services together there are not enough community care workers available.  So you discover that there is a whole swag of problems attached to the fact that you want to be independent from institutionalised care.


You discover:


That some carers are unreliable and that whilst they start off for a few weeks of work they (unless exceptional) lose interest or focus and you then have to “train” another.

They are can be unreliable, as they may not be available for certain times.

Some often don’t have the skills even though they profess to be “in training” for tasks of a general and personal nature.

They decide that some jobs are beneath them.

Some workers, over time become institutionalised themselves and try to do the same with you.

That their employer is paying them peanuts and so in frustration complain to you.

That their employer is not the most approachable and so they are afraid to ask for training in something they are uncertain of.


So what is the situation so far?


The care-support industry is not attracting and keeping sufficient workers – why?


The wages at entry level are poor.  You can make more in a factory without the legal responsibilities.

The conditions are difficult.  You work shifts that are too long, too short, have to travel too far for too little time.

Prospects of permanent work is often poor.

Work place bullying is prominent and you feel disempowered especially if you have been recruited without the proper training to tell you how to respond to difficult situations.

The vocational image of the work is often negative.

Commitment to training is often inconsistent on the part of the system, the organisation and often the worker


Dare I say is it a system in crisis, buried deep and kept under the other layers of community living so it is out of the public eye.  Perhaps it is not a great vote winner!  Or perhaps if you are defined as “elderly” or “disabled” it still marginalises you despite all the rhetoric and public policy that professes to do the contrary.


The sad thing I am contemplating is that as a so called baby boomer, I will have more possibility of living a quality of life in a place like Chiang Mai where I know that the government in Thailand will offer me a special visa to live out my days and I will be able to afford the care and support I need on a fraction that it costs me here.


It will sadden me to put this in place but what are the alternatives?  No serious thought or commitment is being contemplated here!  Not until the horse has bolted I hear my colleagues heckle!  Imagine if 30% of us decide to spend our retiring years away from our homeland?  What an impact that might have on the sharper decision-makes of our land. Then you would see the issue taken more seriously. Perhaps when the consumers of our country decide to consume else where then perhaps we may see changes for the generations ahead.


We need to address this issue at all levels, seriously, carefully and prudently.  We need to make this industry attractive, professional and sustainable.  We need to take it out of the hands of the empire building bureaucrats and medical model groupies and give it back to the people who are the consumers.  We desperately need to increase the flow of people who are attracted to this industry. There are literally dozens of jobs available every day in the major capital cities.  They just can’t be filled.  And when people do try to fill them they don’t stay.


With the help of some astute Human Resource developers, we should be able to turn this problem around and make it an attractive career to workers and not just a grind. We all need to be part of a solution, the bureaucrats, the politicians, and the community in general.


Having said that it is important for me to point out that there are a number of accommodation services that deliver first class services who have very committed and highly skilled staff.


Written by Antonio De Maria

Enable Learning Guides.


PS Diary Note; I wonder if at election time do our politicians think about the responsibilities they have to those many babies they kiss.



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