While we are at the stage of recovering from the effects of the current virus can we start identifying our dreams for the future of age care residences? More of what we had is not an option. A much more intelligent approach would be to define our goals, work out which of them are achievable for a practical future, and where to start.

Firstly, we need to identify the restrictions on our targets for change. Part of this would be to identify what we were ashamed of in the previous model, identify what we needed to do to bring the situation up to an acceptable level of care, and any inhibitors to achieving this. Financial difficulties would need to be near the head of this process. Up until fairly recently aged care was an area in which good profits could be made. As a community I don’t think we should regard aged care as appropriate for this. Feeding elderly people for 6 cents a day, as some facilities were found to be doing, casts doubt on the ethical values of the nation which allows this. Apart from anything else it reflects badly on our society that we feel this an appropriate way to treat people towards the end of their lives.

Secondly, we have and continue to have, an ever growing knowledge of ageing, what is involved and what we are likely to recognize as a necessary part of provision in future. I suspect that currently aged care is one of the few areas in which the people at the top are not required to have qualifications in their field of employment. I suspect that there is not an aged care board in the country which does not have a person on it with qualifications in management or economics, but few, if any, with qualifications in ageing or aged care.

With an increasing number of Universities offering on line courses there is no reason why anyone wanting a career in the field should not have qualifications in it. This would help to make it a more desirable and attractive area to work in, not just a job. We demand this in other areas of health and nursing, so why should we accept amateurism in aged care, at any level? It should be an area in which people are proud to work, and be proud of their achievements, not just an area of easy profits.

The recent experiences of care for aged people in which their human rights were removed because they were imprisoned through a lock up, is an indication of the disdain those working in this area have for their clients. It is interesting that in two facilities in which older people were asked if they preferred to be locked up or be exposed to greater risk, the vote was in favour of freedom and risk taking. Currently older people in care don’t live in a democracy, even though they are built in countries claiming to be such, so they can be locked up without question.

My worst fears have just been realised. I have been invited to a webinar on plans for aged care institutions once restrictions are lifted. The board consists of two economists and a manager! Not a person with qualifications in aged care in sight.