July 24th, 2023Just sayin’…
By Donna Kelly
IT’S funny. Not ha-ha, the other one.
I have run a couple of briefs, back on page 11 (of the latest hard copy edition of The Local) if you want a look, about a positive ageing expo and another program called Living and Ageing Well in Hepburn. As in Hepburn Shire.
They are all about living well as we age, having fun, making connections, staying healthy etc. Positive stuff. Mind you, between us, I don’t find getting older that great. I know the alternative is not much fun but even at my age I am waking up with a few creaks and groans, and what the hell are those age spots doing on my hands already?
(You do know the photo above was taken about 15 years ago and I refuse to update it…oh, and my driver’s licence photo is also about 20 years old. They had a time when you could keep the same photo for another 10 years and then Covid hit and they didn’t want anyone turning up at VicRoads offices – winning.)
But back to positive ageing. Just as these media releases came in I also got calls and emails from older people, and in some cases their children, who are meant to be receiving assistance from home care organisation Benetas – but they are not. Some have waited six weeks for help with cleaning their house. Some are so frustrated they just want to stop the service altogether – even though they need some help. And in some cases, they are still being billed even when no-one turns up to their home.
But who do you go to? Who listens to the complaint? All of these people have talked to someone at Benetas but pretty much with no result. I wrote to state health minister Mary-Anne Thomas, who is also our Macedon MP, and received an email that said: “Thanks for getting in touch. This falls info (sic) Federal Government jurisdiction, I have now forwarded to the office of Catherine King and someone will be in touch. Kindness.” That’s helpful, not.
Of course, I had already written to Catherine King, the federal Ballarat MP, and she did reply with some information and contacts. Back to page 11 again if you want a read.
I also went onto this website – www.health.gov.au/topics/aged-care – which does have a lot of stuff about aged care, rights of older people and how to complain. But if you don’t know how to find your way around a website you are stuffed. I clicked onto a fact sheet about the complaints process and it led me to an Adobe page which needed me to enter a password. I don’t have a password. It also had a pretty dodgy looking domain name and I don’t like clicking on things that look dodgy.
Anyway, who will help these people? One woman rang on behalf of her mother saying she was a middle-aged daughter doing her best to keep her mum happy and healthy at home – all that positive stuff. But the reality is that if services are not being provided then no amount of wonderful positive ageing expos are going to really do anything. Lots of good words I am sure, and “engaging guest speakers” but what is the point if our most vulnerable people are being neglected.
Hepburn Shire Council, who passed the service to Benetas a year ago after deciding to get out of the aged care field, say it is a federal service and not their thing. But surely when they handed that responsibility over it was done with due diligence and some assurances that all would be well. They did eventually email and say people can talk to the council’s Positive Ageing Officer. Hmmm.
I really feel the frustration of these people. I don’t imagine they like even asking for help. I wonder if there is room for a volunteer/person link up. Someone who checks in on vulnerable people. Maybe do a few dishes. Have a chat? I know there are liability issues but we as a community might be able to do better. Just sayin’…