News and media
Aged Care Insite – December 2012
One woman is behind a growing campaign calling for better palliative care services, especially in the bush. Amie Larter reports
Yvonne McMaster is possibly one of Australia’s most passionate palliative care lobbyists.
Extremely concerned about current levels of funding dedicated to palliative care services in NSW, McMaster started a petition to help the NSW Health ministry be able to justify to the Treasury and the community sufficient expenditure for palliative care so that every person has the best possible attention when approaching the end of their life.
“The government has already moved a bit by giving an extra $5 million for three years to start from June next year,” McMaster said. “Everyone knows that this is nowhere near enough to provide equitable care for people in rural areas – the west is worse served than any other part of the state of NSW.”
McMaster, who lives in Wahroonga, Sydney, has already created a great deal of awareness; the petition has already been signed by 59,864 people. “The wonderful palliative care nurses are doing their best but they are up against it with staffing. It is simply not sustainable at present and it is hard for them to provide the services they need to keep people comfortable at home,” she said. more
Aged Care Insite – December 2012
A leading doctor says medical staff and society are now more aware of the signs of depression
Older people need to be encouraged to start focusing on healthy ageing and healthy living to start alleviating the mental health epidemic facing the elderly, says a leading aged care services provider.
Dr Andrew Cole, chief medical officer at HammondCare, believes that encouraging ageing Australians to lead healthier lives by not smoking, treating blood pressure and exercising regularly could lead to a decrease in the amount of mental health issues and is good for the cardiovascular system and prevents strokes.
Cole said that maintaining a healthy weight and sustaining healthy family relationships is also very important.
“Healthy ageing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are very important on the front end of trying to get through old age with the best possible mental health,” Cole said. “It’s just one body. It’s a physical body and it’s the mind that is inside that body – so the two are interconnected.”
Although this issue has been given a lot of light in political and media forums recently, Cole believes this has always been an issue – one that just has not been sufficiently recognised up until now. more
Global Mail – 6 December 2012 – http://www.theglobalmail.org
IT’S FRIDAY MORNING at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital and intensive-care doctor Peter Saul is on the phone to a surgeon, advising him how to deal with 87-year-old Charlie*, who is trying to kill himself. The overdose Charlie took yesterday didn’t work and now, after stabbing himself several times with a kitchen knife, he is in a critical condition. The surgeon is calling to ask Saul whether he should overrule Charlie’s wishes to die and try to sew him up.
“He doesn’t want to take any medication,” the surgeon says. “He doesn’t want to have a blood transfusion… he doesn’t want to go into ICU [intensive care unit], he never wants to be ventilated…”
One after another, the surgeon’s heroics cards are trumped, and the thought of breaking the life-saving mantra drilled into him since his university days has him huffing into the phone.
Saul puts down the phone and tells The Global Mail, “This old guy is terrified that he’s going to end up in a nursing home — which he will — so he’s trying to kill himself rather than have that outcome.”
Charlie also doesn’t want to end up in ICU, that section of the hospital that increasingly lives up to its nickname, “the departure lounge”. Spending your last days in ICU, as one in 10 Australians do, means dying in an unfamiliar bed at the flick of a switch, while tethered to a feeding tube, a dialysis catheter and a breathing machine — “machines that go ping” Saul calls them. Most of us don’t want to end up in this situation.
In today’s developed world, dropping dead, dying in your sleep or being defeated by an infectious disease is unusual. The healthier and longer we live, the longer it takes us to die. Dementia is the third leading cause of death in Australia, and it takes, on average, seven years for a person to die of it. more
Australian Ageing Agenda 29 November 2012
Age discrimination is alive and well in the driver licencing system according to a new report from the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission in partnership with the Council on the Ageing (COTA)
The report, entitled Rights on the road: the experiences of older Victorian Drivers, launched on Wednesday found that older drivers face discrimination and unfair treatment with profound implications to their quality of life.
Acting Commissioner Karen Toohey said that while Victoria’s driver licensing system is working well for many, it is not working well all the time and for everyone. Moreover, when a bad experience occurs, the impacts are profound.
Ms Toohey said that one of the key themes that persisted in the research was around the stigma still attached to ageing.
“Older drivers are often portrayed as a risk or a danger, when in fact statistics show this is not the case. Yet in Victoria each year many older people are required to provide evidence that they are safe on the roads because they have been reported as a risk on the roads by family members, health professionals or just people on the street.
“For some people this is a genuine issue, but many who spoke to us had done nothing to be considered a risk – other than be seen as being old. These attitudes are evidence that ageism and age discrimination remain significant issues in our community,” Ms Toohey said. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 29 November 2012
The largest single aged services provider in the country, UnitingCare Ageing has launched a new survey to understand the experiences oflesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex (LGBTI) older people within the aged care system.
The online survey, which is confidential, was created to allow the provider to gain an insight into the way that older LGBTI people encounter aged care services and sector staff, so that it may later develop more inclusive services.
The initiative marks a proactive step from the Christian-based organisation to promote the rights of older people who identify as LGBTI.
The number of older LGBTI Australians is expected to rise in line with national trends to approximately 500,000 people by the year 2051.
UnitingCare Ageing’s LGBTI project officer, Kellie Shields, said creating inclusive aged care services is part and parcel with the organisation’s “proud and active commitment to social justice”.
Ms Shields said reaching out to LGBTI communities is vital to addressing the lack of awareness of the specific issues facing older LGBTI people.
“UnitingCare at its foundation has a mission to support communities that are disadvantaged, isolated and discriminated against,” said Ms Shields more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 27 November 2012
People with dementia who have lost their ability to remember words, could regain most of their language memory using a simple computer training-program, a new study has found.
Research from Neuroscience Research Australia (NeURA) has found that basic word-training programs,which present information in a format similar to a PowerPoint slideshow, might enable people with semantic dementia to recover their memory for words.
The three-week training program tested utilised paired images of household objects such as food, appliances, utensils, tools and clothing, with a recording of their names.
Participants, aged 62 years on average, were exposed to each item frequently and regularly asked to recall the item or its description.
Outcomes were measured three-weeks later and followed up shortly thereafter.
All the participants were able to recall at least 80 per cent of the 60 words learned (divided into two lists).
The findings show that even brains affected by dementia, with the right kind of training, are able to partially recover some level of function.
“Patients with a wide range of semantic impairments benefit from such practice, most likely reflecting the similar level of preservation in other cognitive skills necessary to engage meaningfully in the practice, such as everyday memory and attention,” the study – published in the international journal on cognition, Cortex, states. more
All New Homes To Be Safer And Easier To Get Around By 2020 New National Campaign To Create ‘Livable Homes’.
A front door you can easily wheel a pram through; living spaces that are safer to move around in; a step-free shower; a handrail on your stairs; and a toilet on the ground floor.
Launched today at Parliament House, Canberra, Livable Housing Australia (LHA) will target the housing industry to achieve the Livable Housing Design Quality Mark as part of a national campaign to ensure all new homes are safer, more comfortable and easier to get around by 2020. more
Healthy West Australian seniors are needed for a study looking at a possible link between losing the ability to multi-task and Alzheimer’s disease.
The University of Western Australia (UWA) research project will study approximately 90 people aged over 60 doing two things at once.
A third of people in the study will have Alzheimer’s, another third will be diagnosed with major depression and the remaining third, which researchers are now calling for, will comprise a control group of seniors who are ageing healthily.
The project aims to confirm that losing the ability to multi-task doesn’t occur in healthy ageing or with major depression, said the lead investigator, Professor Romola Bucks from UWA’s School of Psychology.
“It’s about finding a cognitive symptom that is particular and specific for Alzheimer’s disease,” Prof Bucks said.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that attacks the brain, which in turn affects memory, thinking and behaviour.
It is found in about 50 to 70 per cent of dementia cases making it the most common form of dementia, according to Alzheimer’s Australia, as outlined on their website.
Answering the phone while cooking dinner, then trying to talk on the phone at the same time as stirring the pot or watching the grill is a typical example of doing two things at once, Prof Bucks said.
The UWA study will test the functions in a much more controlled way via a series of assessments. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 22 November 2012
The national regulator of Australia’s vocational education and training sector has announced it will enact a key Productivity Commission’s (PC)recommendation, and conduct a strategic review of vocational education and training (VET) in the aged and community care sector.
The review, to be conducted by the relatively new regulatory body – theAustralian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), will take a whole-of-sector view to aged and community care training, and aim to identify issues and formulate solutions.
The move is said to ensure that aged and community care sector workers have the right skills and qualifications to offer quality care to an increasing number of older people.
ASQA chief commissioner, Chris Robinson, said the review will also help to further detail the key training-related problems identified within the PC’sCaring for Older Australians (2010) inquiry.
“These concerns included the variability in the quality of training provided by registered training organisations (RTOs) and the need for better regulation; and fast-tracking of qualifications, for example, delivering a Certificate III qualification in less than a month,” Mr Robinson said.
“…As the number of older Australians rises and the demand for aged care services increases, there will be an increase in demand for a well-trained aged care workforce…
“It is essential that we prepare for this growth now by ensuring those undertaking VET-level qualifications are equipped with the right skills.” more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 22 November 2012
The federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, and Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Penny Wong, have released the ‘exposure draft’ for new consolidated anti-discrimination legislation which aims to simplify and streamline Australia’s current anti-discrimination laws.
The new draft Act aims to replace the five different anti-discrimination Acts [Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth); Age Discrimination Act 2004; Disability Discrimination Act 1992; Sex Discrimination Act 1984; and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975] currently in use, consolidating them into a single Act that will tackle all forms of discrimination on the same basis.
In releasing the exposure draft, Ministers Roxon and Wong explained that Australia’s current anti-discrimination laws spanning the five different acts all have different standards, definitions and rules which make the system unnecessarily complex and difficult to navigate.
They said the new act would provide better protections with a clearer and simpler regime for business, organisations and individuals.
“There will be no reduction in existing protections and the highest current standards will be consistently applied and enforced across the full range of discriminatory practices,” said Senator Wong.
“It’s ridiculous that at the moment, an African woman for example, who has been discriminated against needs to separately make complaints of sex and race discrimination – now she can make a single complaint recognising the discrimination was because she was both a woman and African.”
Senator Wong said the consolidated legislation will make it easier for individuals to seek redress when they’ve been discriminated against, and will provide the Commission with the ability to dismiss unmeritorious complaints, providing business with certainty. more