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You only need to turn on the television or pick up a newspaper and you’ll read a negative story about aged care in the media. But should you believe everything you read and see?

In this episode of Grey Matters, Tracey and Ben discuss if the aged care system is really in crisis and what the real issues around aged care are.

Key points discussed:

  • Is the aged care system really in crisis
  • What are the real issues for aged care in this country
  • Home care versus residential aged care
  • Questions to ask your aged care provider to make sure you are getting the highest standard of care


Read Full Transcript

Ben Davis:
Good day again. Welcome to Grey Matters. Ben Davis alongside Tracey Silvester from Seasons Aged Care. Fake news, it's a term that's jumped into our lexicon and the age care is not immune to it. Let's put it into perspective. Is the age care system really in crisis?

Tracey Silvester:
I think if you believed everything you read and saw in the media, then yes it is. Like any industry, there's rogue operators. There have been some awful things that have happened to older people at the hands of operators, but automatically assuming that the whole system is in crisis because of that is unfair to the operators who are on a daily basis doing the right thing by their clients and their residents.

Have we had some issues of poor care being provided to people living in residential aged care services? Absolutely. Is the problem as big as what everybody's painting it to be, I don't think it is because I think if you look at the number of people around this country every day who get great services from the operator and their provider, then it isn't the big deal that people are making it out to be.

Ben Davis:
All right. Let's have a look at some issues we can really nail down on. Home Care versus Residential Care.

Tracey Silvester:
So I think it comes down to consumer choice and there is going to be an increasing number of consumers who will want to have a choice about where they live for their final years. Home care obviously is a system at the moment. It's a developing system in this country. We have an increasing number of people, however, who need higher level care than can perhaps be provided in their own home. There does need to be some accommodation choices for people. I'm not convinced that nursing home type care is really what older people will want.

The doctor says I must go to a nursing home because I need 24 hour a day care.

I will guarantee you that there's not a single nursing home in this country that has a nurse sitting next to a resident's bed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But that's the implication that we hear all the time when someone's in hospital. The decision comes to whether they go home or whether they need alternative accommodation. The reality is obviously, nursing home type of care does give you access to somebody 24 hours a day, seven days a week so there is a carer.

But what I would urge people to think about, is there another way of doing this. There's lots of different models coming through now, which allows people to get higher level of care but not necessarily in a nursing home per se.

Ben Davis:
Busting some myths when it comes to age care and Tracey, that's probably the biggest point. What questions do we need to be asking age care providers to make sure that we're getting the best possible services and the highest standards.

Tracey Silvester:
Regardless of the setting in which the care is provided, whether it is provided in somebody's home or in a nursing home, there's some core things that families and the people themselves, and remembering that the older person does have a right to choose. So, don't assume always that it's the family members that make the decisions.

Regardless of all of that, there's some core things. It's costs, so how much is this service going to cost me, be that at home or in a nursing home. How much will you consult with me about the services that I want? Will you take into consideration the fact that I've had a shower every night for the last 50-60 years? Do I have to have a shower in the morning because I'm now receiving services from you? What's the food look like? Certainly if I'm living in a residential aged care setting what are the meals going to look like? Can I actually have my meal in my room? Do I have to come to a dining room for a meal? What's the social programmes like? Particularly in a nursing home, how can I continue to be socially connected? Am I going to be encouraged to participate in the social activities?

Then most importantly, are the staff going to actually take into consideration what I want. So, if I say to one of the staff looking after me, I want this and this and this, are they going to listen to me or is just going to because I've got to get through six showers before 10:00 in the morning. I'm not going to listen to what you want.

It's not always necessarily about the flashest places being the best places. Sometimes the places that've got a more homely feel to them are the ones that are actually provide the best services because the staff there are a lot more empathetic to the needs of the residents.

I think it is a personal choice. It's like choosing any other service in life. It's whether that service in life is going to meet your needs or you feels as though they're going to meet your needs.

But just remember at all times, if something's not right, put your hand up and say it's not okay. A lot of the examples that have been in the media in the last months ... I must have admit, I've been sitting back thinking what happened to the complaints mechanisms in those facilities. If the complaint mechanisms were working effectively, then they wouldn't have perhaps gotten to where the media needed to be brought in.

Ben Davis:
Tracey, thank you for the clarification. For most people listening to this right now, their head's swimming. They're trying to figure out what to do. They've just been thrown into it and a lot of time it's come at a time when it's an emergency in the family. We need to act now and they read headlines or they scroll through something and think I need to sort the wheat from the shaft and thank you for doing that.

Tracey Silvester:
You're welcome.

Ben Davis:
Join us for the next episode of Grey Matters.

Related content: Questions to ask your aged care provider

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Tracey Silvester
Tracey Silvester is Executive Manager of Envigor and has more than 25 years’ experience in health and aged care services. Tracey is committed to ensuring that our elders are able to exercise their right to choose how they live their lives regardless of their ability or function. Tracey is a Registered Nurse and has a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Health Management. She is also an Associate Fellow of the Australian College of Health Service Management and a surveyor with the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards.