The Royal Commission into Aged Care – what price do Australians put on a life?

  • News
  • 11/10/2018
Maree Ireland
Elderly woman about to enjoy her lunch sitting at a communal table in an aged care facility

Will the Royal commission into Aged Care be able to answer this question?

Like many Australians, I have been appalled and shocked by the number of videos being made public of the abuse and neglect of elderly members of society by support staff in Aged Care residences.

Elderly people, at this stage of their life, deserve to be treated with respect, kindness and understanding rather than the abuse portrayed in these videos. These video images tend to stay in my head and they scare me. What scares me even more is that different stakeholders in this issue have various reasons and causes for such abuse, that sometimes it sounds like there is no way to ensure we can stop it occurring.

I remember in my teens I decided to give my parents a few days break, so I agreed to try staying at a nursing home in Coburg. I couldn’t even last 24 hours there. My workshop bus dropped me there about 3.30pm and I was shown to my bedroom. Then 2 nurses came in, told me I would be given a shower, dressed in my pyjamas and given my dinner by 5 o’clock. I’m not sure if they thought I was deaf but while they were assisting me with my dinner they kept saying, “Geez she’s a slow bugger to feed.”

The next morning, I was waiting for my bus by 7.30am to go to the workshop. I then asked someone to ring my parents to say I wanted to come home, and they were fine with that. So, I went home.

I know my story isn’t nearly as bad as we are seeing today. It appals me that even worse treatment is still happening. Fortunately, I was able to leave the place as soon as I could.

I really hope this Royal Commission investigates all the issues which contribute to workers acting in such an inhumane manner. I hope the investigation delves further than just the personalities and work ethics of the workers. The investigation needs to explore the conditions and situations that workers are faced with daily, and ensure the causes of the ‘evilness’ is REMOVED from these places.

We need to start putting a price on the life of all Australians. Let’s hope that aged care facilities become places where elderly people are treated with the respect, kindness and gentleness they deserve.