|Friday, 26 October 2007 ||
The recent report on the often-neglectful treatment of frail, aged people in hospital comes as no surprise to many of us.
Who has not experienced seeing ill, aged relatives struggle to manage in acute-care hospital wards? For example, assistance with meals often just does not occur and so, in many instances, family members have to time their visits in order to ensure that their relative is adequately nourished...
The report also documents other issues – some relating to pressure sores, wound management, medication and inappropriate discharge>.
The simple fact is that acute-care hospitals are not equipped, or staffed, to provide the care that older people, who often have multiple and chronic conditions, require.
This report was commissioned by the Aged Care Association after widespread anecdotal evidence from nursing-home staff. But of course, solutions to the issue of providing quality health care to frail people do not just lie with hospitals.
For example, an aged aunt of mine who lived in residential care, was routinely carted off in an ambulance every time she sneezed. She had a lung condition, the place was staffed with carers rather than nurses and no-one was prepared to take responsibility for her health care. The experience of continually being bundled about from hostel to hospital, and back again, did great harm to both her physical and psychological well-being.
So part of the problem surely lies with the aged-care facilities themselves. If nursing homes and hostels continue to rely more and more on untrained staff, then frail people are far more likely to be sent off to hospital – often for minor problems. And if it remains difficult to obtain routine visits from general practitioners, then facilities will depend more and more on hospitals to provide necessary clinical care.
Health Minister, Tony Abbott, blames the states for the inadequate hospital care. But the blame game between the states and the commonwealth about aged care must surely stop. A joint, wholistic approach to the health and well-being of frail people is urgently needed.
By the way, did anyone see any comment from the Minister for Ageing on this important report? I didn't. I guess he is busy out there campaigning for his own survival.