Local aged care – who’s listening?
Over the past 16 years our committee the Mossman District Nursing Home Inc has seen the face of aged care change immensely. The federal government through their Department of Health and Ageing is now engaged in supporting ageing clients in their own homes and we, as a committee, support these initiatives. These care initiatives are the community care packages that we often hear carers speak about. While we welcome these developments, the question still exists. What happens when staying at home is no longer an option? It is this area that I believe the government is failing to address, particularly in the rural areas. In Douglas Shire we have 812 people over the age of 70 and within that group 106 are over 85 years of age. Dementia and palliative care are increasing with alarming rapidity, and it is a known fact that ageing relatives are staying at hospitals waiting a placement somewhere, anywhere . . . even if it is hours away from the family. And that is not good enough. We deserve the same consideration as those in the city. MDNH Inc is addressing this issue by partnering with a not for profit organisation whose application for beds was rejected again in the last ACAR round. A second costly application was done and was praised by the Department of Health and Ageing for the quality of its research, factual information and statistics and yet the application didn’t get over the line, despite being accompanied 600 letters of support from this community. Letters that told stories of hardships, endured in caring for relatives and partners, and in all cases there was the underlying fear that the solution for the partner/relative was to be housed in a facility hours away from the family. Why does it seem to be perceived by the government department of the day that people in the country are unequal to their counterparts in the city? Our region of consideration extends as far as the Torres Strait, down near Cardwell and out past Mareeba into the gulf. How can we compete? My answer to that is that we cannot stop trying regardless of how big the brick wall is. Beside the need for aged care beds in this area, we recognise the rising need for both independent and assisted housing and hope that negotiations with the new council will move us all in a positive direction in that the block of land purchased by the 2000-2004 DSC will finally be utilised. In the past four years we have successfully lobbied the CRC to gain a lease on the land so ensuring it remained with the community. We have the land. We have the community support. We just don’t have the federal government’s support. We continue to look at ways and means of achieving our goals.We are constantly talking with Warren Entsch who in turn rattles the doors of the government. Someone somewhere must hear our voice.