Levelling the playing field for Carers

When you don’t have the same abilities as others to perform simple tasks – like getting ready for the day – there are people in the community who willingly step in to help. Finding the right person requires a lot of trust; so, how can you be sure that person’s abilities, enthusiasm and dedication match their qualifications?

 

Finding a good carer is like gold. I know, because I’ve had the same carer for many years now.

 

Every day she comes to my house to help me get ready. There’s nothing glamorous about it – she has to help me shower, prepare meals and look presentable...which, I’ll admit, is questionable sometimes. But I’ll put that down to my own fashion taste than her abilities...

 

It means she also interacts a lot with my family, so along with trust it was also important to me that she fitted in with our family unit.

 

My type of care is described as ‘In Home’; meaning, a carer comes to my house to help me in my own environment, rather than being in a hospital or care facility.  I also only require a little help, which means my carer is with me for a few hours a day.  After she’s finished up with me, she heads off to another community care client who she helps. It’s a great arrangement and one my family has become more appreciative of since the global pandemic.

 

You see, as someone of high risk, my family and I made the decision to self isolate as soon as news of COVID-19 hit Australia’s shores. We went into immediate lockdown: no excursions outdoors, and no visitors to the house. It meant putting a pause on my carer coming to our home, and my wife taking on the responsibilities.

 

Why? Because the risk was too high. It wasn’t that we don’t trust our carer, however as someone who travels the region visiting people the risk of her being exposed to the virus and then bringing it to us was too great.

 

Unfortunately, our concern seems to be a reality for some people in Victoria, with news that up to 30 residential disability services have been linked to COVID-19 outbreaks in the state .

 

There’s been a lot of coverage about how coronavirus is impacting aged care facilities and for good reason – they’ve proven to be regular hotspots for cases and, unfortunately, deaths thanks to the vulnerable members of the community who reside in them.

 

Commonly it’s been found employees have been the cause of these outbreaks, with many working across facilities and increasing the risk of exposure. Families are distraught after they entrusted their relatives health and wellbeing to these companies, only to be left searching for answers. As a result, industry wide action has been called for to understand why and how this can happen so that residents can be better protected.

 

To me, I think it’s small minded to only look at aged care – I want the practices of the entire care industry to be investigated. In my opinion I think greater damage can be done by one individual visiting multiple community clients because they have the ability to expose a larger proportion of the population to the virus, then they can expose more people, and so forth.

 

Very similar to the private versus public schools debate, I ask: What’s the difference between aged care and disability carers? On the surface, there isn’t. But if you look closely at their specific care industries, it paints a very different picture.

 

Firstly, the aged care sector is largely run by corporations for profit. They have shareholders and Board of Directors to answer to, and as such there’s a big emphasis on performance. Community care is largely Non-for-Profit and rely on Government funding to perform.

 

With money being a big motivational driver, aged care organisations look for ways in which they can become facilities of choice. They do this by making their facilities more appealing, with greater levels of service and care. As such, they ensure all employees meet specific training standards and ensure professional development is available (and undertaken) throughout their employment.

 

For community care, training is more on self motivated standard. That’s not to say community carers aren’t great at what they do – the ones I’ve been fortunate to meet are fantastic! No, it’s more that there is no onus on the organisations to provide training, rather it falls to the individual.

 

What’s being reported in the media and the changes Australians are demanding for the aged care sector is encouraging. What I would love to see is that they include all factors of the care industry, rather than one (profitable) sub-section. After all, we’re all humans and we all deserve to trust that we’re being cared for by the best abilities available.

 

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