If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old. (Peter Drucker)
Which nursing home will you live in when you get old? Have you planned it? The population of NSW aged over 65years is expected to rise by 20% by 2020. You may need to book your spot now!
I think about it but I am not going to plan it because Australia has the model wrong.
My grandfather died three years ago. He was 98 years old. He lived alone in his own home. He was adamant that he would not go into care. He refused – even threatening to jump off the headland if people made him. He was almost fearful of being “locked up in an old people’s home”.
What’s really going on?
I worked in Aged Care. I love working in Aged Care. However, the way we deliver care, the boundaries, the rules and the philosophy of care need to change.
It is easy and cost effective to house people with similar needs together. Hospitals operate by managing people with similar care needs in one place. If you require surgery, you will be cared for in the surgical ward, medical needs are catered for in the medical ward, and high or intense needs are managed in intensive care.
Aging is not an illness or a deficit. Ageing is a fact of life. It is a blessing. The medical model of locking older people away in safe “aged care” wards does not shape an authentic or meaningful life. Real homes do not house people of one age. Real homes have people of all ages, all struggles, all outlooks living together in a community. Aged care should be modeled on life – not locking a group of like-aged people away from the rest of society. Older people are missing out and the community is missing out.
Currently in Australia, when you get old you have basically three options. One option is to sell up and move into care or buy an apartment that belongs to the care business. Another is community care. You stay in your home and support comes to you. The third is to have a carer move in to care for you. There are pros and cons for all models, with isolation being a major side effect with each model.
Globally, countries like America and Netherlands are offering alternatives to the traditional model of care. These are worth exploring but will have to be covered in another blog.
An inclusive and community focused model of care that supports individuals to grow and build connectedness with others benefits all. An authentic and meaningful community is composed of all of all types of people of all ages. It is in our difference that we develop our identity. With identity, we develop a sense of belonging and understanding of self. Our identity gives us purpose in the imperfect world in which we live.
I don’t want to be locked away from society when I get older, I want to be part of a diverse and interesting community. It is time to change our philosophy and delivery of “care”.