The year ends on a ghastly note for aged care. Today, the Herald Sun reports on how some staff at a Victorian aged care facility thought it was fun to take pictures of the bodies of frail residents and play a ‘guess who?' game at a party at the local golf club...
We should all be appalled at a culture that would nurture such disrespect for others. The worst thing is that one can only wonder how these residents are treated on a daily basis. Does the same attitude prevail? People who do not have the wit or the sense of common humanity to know that this "game" is absolutely out-of-line should not be caring for vulnerable people.
The hostel involved in this matter is part of Bellarine Community Health. The CEO refers to this basic disregard for the human rights of residents as "a silly issue". Well maybe that might give us all a clue as to why this incident occurred. Sorry … but this is not a "silly issue". Rather, it is a "major" one and an indication of a culture where it is acceptable for people to treat others as less than human. However, at least some staff at this home knew that such a ‘game’ reflected poorly on them all and took some action.
While this incident took place in just one home and while there are many other facilities where residents are treated kindly and well, it confirms the view of this columnist that there is a great need for a change in the culture of aged care. How many times have we heard of people we love being referred to as a ‘shower’, a ‘feed’ or a ‘change’? How many times have we watched staff feeding residents while talking to each other – not the frail person who sadly cannot feed her/himself?
And how can anyone ever say that there is no need for more trained staff in residential facilities? Currently, almost anyone can work in aged care as there is such a shortage of staff. Some skills, an understanding of the needs of frail older people and ongoing training are the least we should expect.
In the mean time, those of us approaching old age better look out for that individual approaching with a camera and taking pictures for a ‘scientific project’!