There is an obvious conflict of interests in any care industry where profits have to be made and returned to shareholders, rather than ploughed back into better care, write Patricia Edgar and Don Edgar.
Profit is never a good incentive for the common good. It’s easier to cut back on staff, food quality, proper supervision and social activity for those in care, while ramping up schemes that confuse people about entry and exit costs in aged care homes and deny families peace of mind and financial justice. Lack of enforcement of proper standards means the providers too often get away with it.
The recently revealed scandalous treatment of older people in both retirement living and aged care calls for a serious rethinking of the aged care system as a whole.
Because we are living longer and have a healthier lifestyle, the years of disability-free living have increased by 5 years and most people are not in need of institutional care until the last few years of their life.
But if they need care and support as they get older, a rich country like Australia should be able to provide the highest quality end of life experience. There should be no opportunity for rip off schemes in retirement villages or neglect and cruelty such as that reported by Michael Blanchard in The Age.
The aged have contributed to society, helped their offspring and grandchildren through a lifetime. The middle-aged are supporting their millennial adult children as well as their ageing parents. That intergenerational exchange is a guide to better policies in all aspects of aged care, even once the few who may need it move out of the family home into institutional care.
Dr Patricia Edgar and Dr Don Edgar are sociologists and Ambassadors for the National Ageing Research Institute.
PATRICIA EDGAR AND DON EDGAR. Aged care will be a different ballgame -the risks of commercialisation (Pearls and Irritations)