How is it possible that a man who has been unable to move any part of his body and is unable to speak is labelled as verbally abusing and physically threatening? Yet this is how he was described in an Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) document.
His daughter, shocked when discovering this assessment, states, 'He cannot do anything for himself, he can’t even call out for help, he pretty much just sits there'.
A further resident who suffers multiple sclerosis, and who can only move one hand, was described as being 'physically abusive'.
Generally, families do not have access to the ACFI - the document whereby the level of government subsidy to an aged-care provider is determined. In the cases cited above, the families were considering alternative care because of rumours that the home was closing.
One can only wonder how common are such disrespectful, in accurate assessments and how our own family members might be described in official documents that we do not see.
The owner of the home where these two people live defended the assessments stating that, 'individuals without a clinical background or comprehensive understanding of the ACFI assessment process may understandably misinterpret the clinical assessments'.
That’s right! You have to have to do a health worker's course of some kind to understand what 'physically abusive', 'verbal disruption' and 'physically threatening' mean.
There are many questions.
- Are disabilities generally described accurately and honestly when the ACFI assessment tool is used?
- Is precious aged-care funding going to the right places?
- Why are family members and primary carers not involved in the assessment of residents?
- Why isn’t the whole process transparent to all?
Primarily though, an inaccurate assessment of aged-care residents shows profound disrespect for the individuals involved. How would any of us like to be described like this – on official documents or elsewhere?
On the other hand, it is heartening to see the latest initiative taken by the innovative aged-care provider Wintringham. Wintringham works with homeless men and women who traditionally do not access general aged-care services.
Bryan Lipmann AM, the founder and CEO of Wintringham, has spent years working with disadvantaged homeless older people and has always maintained that they are entitled to receive the same standards of care as anyone else.
In many ways Wintringham has exceeded this brief as both the design of Wintringham homes, and the philosophy underpinning their services provide a model for all of us.
Not only has this service provider received recognition from the United Nations by being included on the UN Scroll of Honour but Insync Surveys has found that they also have the highest level of staff satisfaction of any organisation on their data base. Wow! You only need to take note of staff accounts to see the endemic problems relating to low staff morale in most aged-care settings.
Now Wintringham has come up with an idea that suddenly seems blindingly obvious. It has opened a 60 bed aged-care facility in Dandenong while liaising with Wallara, an organisation caring for people with disabilities, which has built next door.
Thus, older parent carers who are no longer able to care for their adult children can live next door to them and interact on a daily basis. How often have we watched with sadness as ageing parents with offspring who have a disability have told us of their extreme anxiety of not knowing how their children will manage when they can no longer care for them?
Not only that. Wintringham names its homes after residents. The Dandenong home is named “Eunice Seddon” The actual Eunice Seddon lives at Wintringham’s Williamstown home and describes her accommodation as ‘a palace’.
Now how good is that?