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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 4 Hansard (17 March) . . Page.. 1141..

DR FOSKEY (continuing):

available, being embarrassed and humiliated in front of other people, being shouted at or abused by staff and having personal items removed for occupational health and safety reasons. It could be in the form of physical abuse and neglect such as being left sitting on the toilet for up to 90 minutes, being left in urine-soaked bedding for hours, having your walking frame kicked out from under you, pinching, being left in bed until last, on a regular basis. Institutions breed institutional behaviour and create power structures that leave people incredibly vulnerable. If we are going to have institutional care, we must ensure that the culture in our institutions is one of respect for all. The elderly and frail in our community deserve to live out their lives in an environment which values them as individuals and pays due regard to their needs and desires.

In relation to the recommendation of the committee to conduct a survey of all aged care providers in relation to the allied health care needs of residents, the government in its tabling statement agreed in principle to do this but went on to say:

The conduct of a comprehensive survey would entail a significant investment in time, energy and resources from aged care providers and their cooperation would be essential if the survey was to be effective.

The interest among aged care providers in participating in a survey is unclear and there may be other ways to identify gaps in service access, the ACT government will approach aged care providers to discuss interest in a possible survey and to consider other approaches to identifying responding to gaps.

While I accept that a comprehensive survey may require some work for service providers, those who are interested in the wellbeing of their residents will undoubtedly be happy to be involved if they can be assured that the results will lead to better and more comprehensive access to allied health care for their residents. The difficulty that service providers have with answering surveys is that surveys often become an end in themselves. Governments are good at developing and analysing the results of surveys, but they are poor at the remedial action that should flow from the results, particularly if it involves money.

In this case, the government, while it has agreed in principle to conduct the survey, has merely noted the recommendation that calls for the development of an older person's health action plan and at improving the accessibility of allied health care services. While ever this part of the health committee's recommendation remains merely noted, I can fully understand the reluctance of aged care providers to participate in the survey. Unless and until the government is prepared to commit itself to follow-up action in the form of an action plan service providers would rightly regard the survey as a waste of precious time which could be better spent elsewhere.

When it comes to addressing the allied health care needs of persons in residential aged care, a clear commitment from government that this issue is important is needed. The Legislative Assembly health committee in its report has detailed very clearly why allied health care is so important to elderly people. As people age, their need/our need, for assistance to maintain their/our health and comfort levels increases. Without adequate access to allied health care services they/we are more likely to develop acute problems requiring hospitalisation. They/we are also likely to suffer from depression.

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