Tuesday, September 10, 2013
an upsetting article I read in last Sunday's paper
If an elderly person is killed by a drunk driver or attacked and mauled by a vicious dog, the public's response is, "It could have been much worse. What if it had been a child?" I find these comments somewhat disturbing and heartless, although probably not intentional. After all, a life is a life regardless of age, isn't it?
All hell would break loose if our child daycare centres left babies in soiled nappies for 10 or more hours a day, resulting in severe nappy rash and infections; failed to administer the correct or essential medications; did not supply adequate food; left babies or toddlers unattended in showers or baths; failed to give appropriate medical care for falls and injuries; physically abused a screaming baby or an uncooperative toddler.
Sadly, it's our elderly who are suffering these unacceptable conditions, in inadequately funded and understaffed aged care nursing homes. They are our grandparents, our mums and dads who have worked, paid their taxes, brought up their kids without baby bonuses, maternity leave and other government hand-outs, and through no fault of their own, may be suffering dementia or other age-related illnesses and are just as vulnerable, yet apparently not as deserving, as our young.
This shouldn't be a "young" versus "old" issue, because everyone deserves dignity and respect, regardless of age.
Yet our government ultimately decides who will receive appropriate care and who will not!"
Fran Meaker Elizabeth North. (the author)
I think she makes some excellent points.
Time and time again, for years, I have seen aged care facilities exposed on TV current affairs programs, places where our elderly people are tied to the bed railings so they can't wander and get lost, or tied into their wheelchairs and medicated until they are drooling zombies in front of television sets. Facilities where food is woefully inadequate, either poor quality or not properly prepared, even plates just put down in front of people clearly unable to feed themselves and then removed, untouched at the end of meal times, because these places are so badly understaffed there is no one available to help these people eat that food.Facilities where not enough staff is available to wash and change the patients themselves or their bedding.
Every time, there is an outcry from outraged people, big headlines in newspapers, there are unannounced inspections carried out, there are orders to raise the standards etc etc, but still the unacceptable conditions persist.
There are good aged care facilities out there, but they are "private" facilities, very expensive and the high cost of the patients care is paid for by the families that can afford it.
And yes, there are facilities that don't have as much funding, yet still manage to treat the patients well.
But most aged care facilities are just barely adequate and poorly funded, some by governments, some by churches, and they cannot afford the numbers of staff to ensure patients are fed, washed, changed, perhaps even entertained by being read to or talked to or taken for a walk in the grounds. Not all patients have dementia and can carry on conversations quite well, I'd imagine.
Many of our hospitals have geriatric wards filled with people requiring care who can't afford a nursing home, and simply can't be sent home to cope on their own.
This is not the only thing that upsets me. It is bad, yes, but think about this...charities and agencies all over the world have fund raising and donations etc "for the children".
Children are our future is the cry, we must assure they have a future.
And they are right.
But what of the adults, and the elderly?
Where is the fund raising and donations?
When was the last time a charity contacted anyone asking for donations for an extra nurse or two, a kitchen hand for an aged care facility?
You could argue that the families of these elderly should be visiting and caring for them, but not everyone has time or even knows that granny isn't being properly cared for. Sometimes granny has no living family close by, or at all.
Even the homeless have yearly calls for blankets and food, which many people happily donate to, feeling good within themselves that they have helped someone less fortunate.
Meanwhile, someone's grandma is unable to eat her dinner because her hands cannot hold a spoon or she cannot even sit up to reach the plate. Someone's grandpa is sitting or lying in soiled pyjamas and sheets, because the nurses don't have time (there are a few who simply don't care, and get fired as they should) to get to everyone on their shift.