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On November 27, Seasons Sinnamon Park hosted a seminar bringing together expert speakers covering aged care advice, advocacy and advance care planning.

Seasons Aged Care Industry Liaison Officer Bek Bingham said that the event aimed to inform industry and members of the public about services and advice to help them plan ahead.

“Our guest speakers Mark Dries from Aged and Disability Advocacy Australia (ADA Australia), Deanne Lawrie from the Elder Abuse Unit and Julie Sutherland from Metro South Health’s Advance Planning Team all shared their insights and gave practical advice on areas leading to better health outcomes for seniors,” says Ms Bingham.

“The topics connected with our audience and sparked many questions and suggestions on ways we could all be better informed and help others.

“These are often topics we don’t want to speak about or bring up with family members or people in our care, but speaking openly about these issues is essential if we want to improve quality of life for older people.”

For those who couldn’t make it on the day, we’ve put together the following main takeaways from each guest speaker.

Mark Dries from ADA Australia

Mark Dries from ADA Australia talked about the issue of advocacy for older people.

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is defined as the process of supporting an individual to be heard. Advocacy places the individual at the centre of the process, allowing them to understand and exercise their rights while participating in conversations and decisions affecting their lives.

Role of advocacy

Mark gave the following advice on the role of advocacy.

Advocacy is important because it:

  • Stops issues escalating
  • Assists with communication
  • Prevents formal complaints processes
  • Improves quality services
  • Assists clients with making care decisions

 

Many people find it hard to advocate for themselves and others as emotions can get in the way. Mark’s advice on how to advocate included:

  • Define the issue
  • Be clear about your desired outcome
  • Find the best person to talk to
  • Gather information on your rights and responsibilities

 

ADA Australia offer advocacy services for older people and people with a disability, including helping them navigate issues related to the Public Trustee, Public Guardianship and Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA).

EPOA is one area where there can be a lot of confusion and potential for conflict. This video from ADA outlines how to act appropriately as an attorney under an EPOA in Queensland.

Deanne Lawrie from Elder Abuse Unit

Deanne covered the issue of Elder Abuse and signs to look for that could indicate someone is being abused and what to do if someone you know is being abused.

Elder abuse statistics

There aren’t a lot of studies into elder abuse, as it’s a relatively recent term. But it’s thought that 5 percent of people over 65 are victims of elder abuse.

Elder abuse is defined as:

A single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which causes harm or distress to an older person.”

In 75 percent of cases, an adult child is the perpetrator of the abuse. 

Types of elder abuse

There are six main types of elder abuse:

  • Financial abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Social abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Neglect

 

The most common types are financial abuse and psychological abuse. Social abuse can often be a starting point, with the abuser cutting off the older person’s access to friends and family.

What to do if you suspect an older person is being abused

If you think someone you love is being abused, it’s important to be there for them and listen to them in a non-judgemental way.  A good place to start for advice if you’re in Queensland is by calling the Elder Abuse Helpline on 1300 651 192.

Julie Sutherland from Metro South Health’s Advance Planning Team

Julie (pictured in the top photo) spoke about the need for an advance care plan, explaining the importance of thinking ahead and planning for a time where we may not be able to communicate our own wishes.

In an entertaining presentation, Julie encouraged the crowd to not think of advance care planning as a static process, but instead as an ongoing process of thinking ahead and making choices ahead of time.

What is advance care planning?

Advance care planning involves thinking and making choices now to guide your future health care. It is a process of communicating your wishes, values, beliefs and treatment preferences with your family, friends and healthcare providers.

Why plan ahead?

Planning ahead can help you ensure that:

  • the treatment and care you receive in the future is in line with your wishes
  • your loved ones won’t have to make difficult decisions on your behalf without knowing what you would have wanted
  • your words guide those making decisions about your health care  when you can’t speak for yourself

Advance care planning key points:

  • Choose an EPOA who would act in your best interest and make decisions that you would make for yourself
  • Make sure your key decision makers know your wishes
  • Write down your advance care plans – either through a Statement of Choices Form (not legally binding) or an Advance Health Directive (legally binding).
  • Make your plan accessible to those that need it. This could include having it in an easily accessible place in case of an emergency.
  • It’s never too early to do an advance care plan –even if you are fit and healthy. If you are going overseas you definitely should have one.

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Belinda Peters
Belinda brings more than 17 years experience in journalism to her role as Seasons Digital Content Writer. As our blog editor, Belinda will take the confusion out of aged care with entertaining and informative stories from across the aged care industry and our Seasons communities.