Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Mar-Apl 2014 Contents With a strong background
in health service research
and patient advocacy
gained from 15 years in
the public health system
working on government grants for the
health workforce and patients, Dr Amee
Morgans was interested in a change
Looking for a client-focused role that
included advocacy in an organisation with
a conscience, Dr Morgans says a position
description for the manager of innovation,
policy and research role at Benetas looked
like a perfect fit. Well almost. She had
never worked in aged care.
Although attracted to Benetas' goal
of committing to the research and
development of innovative and evidence-
based practices that improve service
delivery, Dr Morgans wasn't convinced such
an aim could be achieved in aged care.
Why? Because Morgans says her view
was that it was neither innovative nor
"From an outsider's perspective, I
thought aged care in Australia was a
barren place. It flies under the radar in
mainstream press, unless it is negative.
It doesn't have the excitement of
emergency health, or the hope of cancer
research," says Morgans.
Fast forward 100 days from taking
the role at Benetas and Morgans says
the reality is vastly different to her
preconception. She now sees aged care
as being about nurturing and caring,
a key link in the broader health and
social services system, and a societal
responsibility and opportunity for
"I have been pleasantly surprised to
find that aged care is full of innovative and
passionate advocates. From individuals
to organisations, people in aged care
genuinely want to make a better system
for older Australians."
As the manager of innovation, this
area is close to Morgans' heart and she
reiterates being a leader and innovator
in the field is one of Benetas' goals. "Our
main aim is to offer opportunities to staff
to improve care so that our clients achieve
the best outcomes possible."
There is no such thing as a regular day,
Morgans says of her role, and with the sector
changing rapidly Benetas is constantly
seeking ways to innovate.
"A working day for me might include
preparing several grant applications to
fund new projects, developing ways for
clients and their families to participate
in research, drafting policy responses
to government, and working out how
research can improve our practice."
Research, the amount being done and
the funding opportunities, is another area
Morgans has been impressed with. Despite
having worked in public health, Morgans
says she rarely saw this publicised.
"Even though it is not getting talked
about publicly, the sector is doing great
work in terms of innovation, policy and
research." Morgans cites research
focusing on ageing well, and that which
is supporting staff to better care for
Morgans wants the wider community to
have a more informed picture of aged care.
"The sector needs to better promote this so
the rest of the community is aware of the
great masses of work being undertaken to
improve the customer experience."
CHANGING THE PROFILE
In short, Morgans believes that aged
care's image needs a makeover. More
than just positive stories, increased
knowledge about the sector is integral,
as is promoting social inclusion of older
people in the community, and removing
taboos that limit talk about ageing and
end of life, she says.
"We need to set realistic expectations
about what aged care is and what people
want from it. We need more dialogue and
more interaction between aged care and
other areas of social welfare and health."
Rather than an island or the last stop on
the journey from birth to death, Dr Morgans
says aged care is intimately connected to
social inclusion, local communities, the
economy, workforce, families and society.
"Improved provision of industry
information and benchmarking between
providers is key to making sure consumers
are able to compare services and achieve
a positive experience and find an
environment of choice," she says.
This approach, Morgans notes, aligns with
the Living Longer, Living Better reforms.
While she has found the engagement
between aged care, government,
consumer and industry positive, it is time
for the commentary to reach the wider
community, she says.
"It is up to me, my colleagues and
my industry counterparts to ensure the
good work of what we are all doing is
shouted from the rooftops, to change the
negative perceptions of ageing and aged
care in Australia." n
Shout it from the rooftops
Just last year, Dr
care a barren place
void of innovation,
but her views
after 100 days
working in the
sector, she tells
60 | MARCH -- APRIL 2014 | AAA
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