Fairfax media coverage spreads to aged care

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After calling for stories from the public in April, Fairfax has fulfilled on its promise with four big stories commencing in its Saturday’s the Age and Sydney Morning Herald editions.

They make for grim reading. Journalist Michael Bachelard has highlighted a number of resident ‘horror stories’ which he says are not isolated incidents, but an indication of a system in crisis.

The daughter of one resident covered in the story says: “I’d rather euthanase myself than enter aged care.”

The second is simply titled: ‘Nursing home accused of being like Guantanamo Bay’.

Everything, from the big operator’s profits and ownership by private equity firms to the lack of staff and training and poor English skills of staff and hours of care received by residents, comes in for a hammering.

While well-researched, the stories do fail to point out what providers, staff and peak bodies already know. The Government or the aged care customer, or both, need to put more funding in if we want more nurses, higher ratios, improved food and so on.

The Tune Review made two recommendations in this direction but the Government quickly closed them down.

Despite what the stories outline, operators are not raking in big profits – many don’t even break even.

Grinding the sector down is not the answer. (It certainly won’t help in attracting passionate staff).

But it’s clear that we as a sector need to better communicate our story to the public.

Otherwise these will be the only headlines we will read.

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