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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 10 Hansard (27 August) . . Page.. 2895 ..

MR HARGREAVES (continuing):

Hospital, as it was then, to the new Tuggeranong health centre, with a view to putting those services into the community where they belonged and not having the people attending the day centre in a sickness-type environment. I wanted them to be in vibrant environment and to slow down the social isolation they felt. One of the best ways of doing that is to attack it with an active rehabilitation program.

The government ought to be congratulated for saying, "Hang on a second. We will just have a look at this." We have changing demographics. We had people coming to the Woden day centre from Melba, Spence, Gordon, Narrabundah and the inner south. They were coming because the services provided there were not available at other centres. There was a day centre in Belconnen, one in Narrabundah and later one in Tuggeranong.

Let us put to death the suggestion that this government is going to close down the services to these people and let us stop frightening them. Any change of program for these people will involve getting their views on what they feel they need. The best thing Mr Smyth can do is to back off and keep his gob shut on that one. He is making a bigger fool of himself every time he says something, and he is frightening people unnecessarily. He ought to be very careful about the press releases he puts out.

Nothing much has been said in this debate about some of the positive moves this government has made. Where there are negatives, they certainly should be brought forward. I have no difficulty with that, so long as they can be sustained. Where things are pretty much the same, we have no problem about somebody saying that. But where things are changing for the better, the public record ought to acknowledge that.

A couple of areas that came up in the estimates hearings are worthy of mention. One was a step-down facility or slow-stream rehabilitation. Essentially it is a slower service of for older people to get better. The biggest client base for this service, Mr Speaker-and you will remember, because it was in the time of your ministry that we first started talking about a convalescent facility-are older people, 75 plus, with a broken femur neck. A young footballer who breaks his femur neck needs about six weeks of hospitalisation, or not even that these days. A bit of physio and off he goes. He is probably playing footy a couple of months later.

But if you are 75, you are looking at a number of months. The body, given enough time after surgical intervention, probably fixes itself. With a reasonably slow but effective physiotherapy program, reasonably full recovery occurs. With diet to combat osteoporosis and some physiotherapy, hopefully these older people can go back into their home reasonably well mended. They do not require the same cost per day as they would in a hospital.

In the early 1990s a hospital bed cost something like $600 a day and a convalescent bed $126. We are not talking about sticking somebody on the veranda with a blanket over their lap and saying, "Let nature take its course." We are talking about assistance. Rehabilitation is all about helping people to do things themselves, not about intervention.

I was chuffed to see funding for this in the budget. I think it is absolutely vital. We keep talking about people who want to get into hospital but cannot because there is not a bed. If we can free up beds, all the better.

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