I’m currently living at home and intend to stay that way but I’m becoming increasingly aware that others need more care than can be given in the home, even with the Home Care service the federal government provides.

It always worries me that a physical home in a retirement village may be provided by someone who is merely paid to do so and has no incentive to try to provide the best and the most appropriate. These thoughts arose because the ACT has announced the provision of housing for older people who want to ‘downsize’, in other words move out of a big family home into something more suitable for 1 or 2 older people (a single  or a couple). The only people involved who were mentioned were the government and the company developing the land, no mention of any other people, particularly older people, being asked for their opinion. This may just be a failure to mention such involvement. I hope so.

It reminded me of a speaker at a conference I went to who was speaking on behalf of a development company building apartments for older people in Sydney. When she had finished I asked if they had consulted older people as to what they would have desired in such a building. ‘Good heavens no’ she yelled at me from the platform and then quoted the huge amount of money it was costing. I felt like yelling back ‘If it’s costing that much all the more reason for consulting them’! They could easily have been left either with unsellable apartments on their hands or people who had bought them merely because there was no alternative on the market and had to put up with any undesirable features.

Last week I went over to look at one of the Warrigal Care sites where they are building new independent living units. They already have facilities for other types of care established on the site and I was shown round. I was even shown the laundry and kitchens and was impressed with the obvious enjoyment people in all areas of the facility have in their work. This type of work enjoyment many of us older people remember used to be the norm. Today such consideration seems to have been replaced by how much they pay rather than any job satisfaction.

One of the reasons I admire the Warrigal Care group is that they treat older people as people, not just clients or whatever the current term is. When I asked if people already living in their independent living units on other sites had had input into the design of the new units the answer was a simple ‘of course’. Many of us are aware that when it comes to providing for us in any form we aren’t usually consulted. Dare I mention ‘Centrelink’!

Yet another issue we have to deal with.