There are two unanswered questions as we age; how much longer will we be on earth and where will we end up living? Given that one of the fastest growing age groups is the over 80’s, and the variability in our health, it is unlikely we will ever have an answer to the first question. For the second question I think most, if not all of us, would prefer to stay in our own homes and government policy in Australia is enabling this by providing home care to enable us to do this.
It is with the rest of the ageing population, those who for whatever reason can’t look after themselves at home, that the problems arise. There are some horror stories about nursing homes in the past. One of my neighbours is still hurting over the treatment his mother was subject to even though it happened many years ago. Not being able to help, or provide for, one’s ageing parents as we would wish would be really hurtful.
To try to raise, and maintain, acceptable standards in residential care homes the previous government introduced new regulations which seemed to be a nightmare to providers in this field, even for those already trying to reach high standards. The fact that in Canberra I am told that most such places are owned by solicitors for example, suggests that they are a good investment property. It must be a huge temptation to want to increase dividends rather than increase the quality of care, particularly when the residents themselves are often incapable of complaining about their treatment.
Last night I attended the annual dinner of the not-for-profit Warrigal group. I always feel proud of what they are trying to achieve including constantly looking for ways they can improve their services. This year they are revamping the organisation to take into account modern research in this field. If I am not capable of looking after myself when I get older I hope I can find an organisation like this to take over.
The highlight of the evening last night was the entertainment provided by some of the residents of one of their retirement villages. It was nothing to do with the participants being older people. It was to do with their talent, recognising what was needed towards the end of a high quality evening. I always get a buzz when older people stand up to be counted and end up on top.
If only all organisations catering for older people not only recognised their talents but also gave them the opportunity to use and display them. Last night’s talented older people must have felt very gratified at the looks of sheer happiness on the faces of the rest of the people attending. Well done and well done Warrigal for giving them the opportunity and encouragement.
I suspect that the relatives of those in Warrigal’s many facilities don’t have too many worries, given their high standards. I am sure there are other similar high quality providers. The problem is weeding out those who are not.