Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2011 Contents Speaking personally
Chief Executive, Uniting Church Homes (WA)
Each issue, Australian Ageing Agenda asks a senior industry
figure to speak personally about their thoughts, experiences
and hopes in aged care.
WHY DO YOU WORK
IN AGED CARE?
It is a demanding, stimulating and rewarding
sector to work in, which requires a mix of
technical, personal and people skills to
maintain an organisation's relevance in fast
The most vulnerable part of the client group
that we serve -- the oldest, sickest and frailest
members of our community -- deserve the
best care and support that we can provide.
To maintain that high standard is a significant
challenge, given the constraints of our
operating environment. I enjoy the challenge.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST
MOMENT OR FAVOURITE
MEMORY IN AGED CARE?
Without doubt the greatest moments occur
during one-on-one interaction with residents,
clients or family members. Sometimes you
have the opportunity to pick up on a person's
life story, as intriguing and unexpected as
that can be. I have benefited from people's
vivid recollections of surviving the Great
Depression; the bombing of Darwin during
WWII and escaping from Vietnam as a
refugee...These are great moments.
WHAT ARE YOU REALLY
I am very pleased with the mature
consideration that members of the PC
Commission have applied to their recent
draft report, Caring for Older Australians.
In particular, the strong philosophical
underpinning of designing services around
people's wellbeing and delivered in ways
that respects their dignity and supports
their independence...Although some
recommendations need to be strengthened
and others explored further, the report is a
WHAT IS ANNOYING YOU
AND MAKING YOU ANGRY?
The consequences of the current regulatory
environment and the impact that it has on key
members of your staff is regrettable. To have
care managers express concern about their
ability to enjoy annual leave because of the
potential presence of regulators on-site during
their absence has all of the hallmarks of a
system that has lost its way.
WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE
FACING THE INDUSTRY?
Complacency by the community about the
fate of older people who need assistance and
support; by governments that will rate the
electoral impact of aged care as a precursor
to any action; and by service providers who
are unwilling to stand up and be counted.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST
The opportunity provided by the thrust of PC
Commission recommendations and an aged
care minister who seems to be listening is very
significant. So too is the year 2011 when the
first tranche of baby boomers, the new 'grey
force' political activists, turn 65.
WHO DO YOU REALLY
ADMIRE FOR THEIR
EFFORTS IN AGED CARE?
Without doubt it is the hands on staff that
deserve all of the accolades. Many have
been with my organisation for more than
a decade and when you witness how they
go about journeying with, relating to and
nurturing and supporting people who require
care, it is very difficult not to be in awe of
their competency and compassion. It makes
working in the sector a great
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE
We now have a genuine opportunity to reset
the policy parameters to create a more
relevant and sustainable future. Please don't
squander this chance through deft footwork
to achieve short-term political goals. Service
providers, consumers, unions and related
health industry stakeholders are ready to be
part of a process that will lead to much better
outcomes for older Australians. This is the
time to commit to reform.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE
FOR THE INDUSTRY?
We need to prepare ourselves for significant
change and innovation. A high percentage of
what we are currently doing is poisonous to
our future. Not-for-profit service providers will
be particularly challenged in a new market-
driven operating environment. Continuing to
meet the needs of rural and remote Australia
and people who do not have choices in city
and suburban settings will test the mission
IF YOU COULD DO ONE
THING TO CHANGE AGE
CARE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would provide a much greater focus on
housing. Good quality housing in accessible
neighbourhoods brings considerable benefits
-- not only to the lives of older people, but to
the community as a whole. n
"We now have a genuine opportunity
to reset the policy parameters to create
a more relevant and sustainable future.
Please don't squander this chance..."
80 | MAY--JUNE2011 | AAA
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