Imagine being surrounded by death. Spending your days sitting in a quiet room and your nights listening to the shrieks of someone who is losing their mind.
Everyone around you is half a century older. At 4.30pm each day you are served a mushy dinner. You feel institutionalised. You feel decades older than you are, the Courier-Mail reports.
It’s the story of more than 1000 young people across Australia today, the inconvenient generation who have been unceremoniously dumped in nursing homes because there is nowhere else for them to go. They are too sick to be at home, and not sick enough to take up a hospital bed.
Katy Skene was one of them. She spent 15 months in an aged care home at the age of 33.
“It was like the lights went out on my life. I lost my confidence. I lost the will to do anything,” she told news.com.au.
Katy had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 19, but her symptoms were mild enough for her to finish her early childhood degree at the University of Melbourne and become a kindergarten teacher. It was only after she had worked in her dream job for ten years that doctors were forced to operate to remove her bladder.
After three months in hospital, she was too sick to go home but using up a bed. One day, a social worker came to tell her she was being put in an old people’s home.
She went from having a fulfilling job in teaching and clubbing every weekend to eating mushy food and never leaving her room.
Katy had given up hope when a social worker told her a space had come up for her in supported housing.
Just talking about that terrible time makes Katy shudder, she told news.com.au. “I don’t like talking about it but I will do it to raise awareness. It’s Australia’s dirty little secret.
NSW government addresses Australia’s ‘unseen crisis’ (Sydney Morning Herald)