It should have been on page one

Posted By on December 4, 2017

Both New Zealand and Australia are short of aged care workers and the governments see the solution is to ease up on immigration.

Not a headline news item but maybe it should be. For starters, no matter who you are, you will get old. Unless your luck runs out, you’ll eventually end up in aged care, so the standards of aged care we set today will determine the level of care you will receive. Secondly, you or someone close to you has an elderly relative in, or about to go into aged care. Thirdly; we should ask, are foreigners the best people to care for the elderly?
This is an issue that effects all of us, no matter what our age.

Have our leaders missed the logic here?

Shouldn’t they be asking why there is a shortage of aged carers?

Shouldn’t they be asking who is best, to care for our elderly?

Why is there a shortage of local aged carers?

Aged care is perceived as a lowly job by many in the community (evidenced by the prevalence of foreign workers). Even inside the medical profession, geriatric nursing is seen as a less prestigious form of nursing. Dealing with incontinent, immobile, confused and often aggressive patients is not an ideal working environment, add shift work hours, none of this not reflected in the wages of aged carers.

To handball the issue of aged care facilities funding, governments have promoted privatization, passing it on to rest home operators. When any service is privatized and profit becomes the motive, you drive the service down to the lowest dollar to yield the maximum profits. Put another way, you provide the least for the most.

They do this a number of ways – reducing the numbers of staff, reducing the staff qualification levels, reducing their pay rates, increasing workload without raising wages, reducing the standards of meals and other services. We frequently read stories of neglect, abuse and closures of aged care facilities who fall below minimum standards.

Recently, aged care workers have won a case for pay equality. How sad, that we are in the 21st century and still fighting inequality in a civilized country!

It’s time our leaders took a good look at the aged care sector and paid the people what they are really worth. A corporal in the defense forces earns more than an aged care worker, and gets more privileges.

Who should be looking after our elderly?

Will foreigners from a different country, culture and religion, be able to offer the same care as locals who are familiar with our ways? That “infidel” could be your mother or father.

Caring involves empathy. Do these foreigners have relatives in the same situation here, that they empathize with?

There is a very high proportion of dementia and hearing loss amongst the elderly. Does it make sense to place them in the care of people with an accent? Wouldn’t that compound the communication problems the elderly already have?

Immigrants are vulnerable to threats of deportation and easily manipulated to accept lower wages or take on unacceptably higher work loads than locals. This leaves the profession open to abuse and corruption. Already we have a high incidence of abuse both of patients and overall standards of care. Trusting rest home and aged care operators to do the right thing for immigrant workers, is akin to letting the fox guard the hen house.

It’s not rocket science; it all comes down to paying the carers what they are really worth. This will attract local people into this profession, especially older workers looking for a career change.

It’s time we got our priorities right.

About The Author is the online voice of a collection of consumer advocates working independently to represent people who would otherwise be unheard. We speak for those who are bullied by corporations and don’t realise they can have a say.


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