Heatwaves are tough on everyone, but none more so than people living in nursing homes.
In the Victorian heatwave of 2009, 294 of the 374 people that died because of the heatwave were over the age of 65.
It is important that extra care is taken to protect vulnerable nursing home residents, who are generally less able to regulate their own body temperature due to health conditions.
When Ashley visited her 101 year old grandmother at a Sydney nursing home on a particularly hot day last summer, she was horrified to discover that there was no air conditioning.
Staff suggested she dab her grandmother's forehead with a damp cloth in an effort to keep her cool, but this did not provide adequate relief from the heat.
Ashely was so shocked by the situation at her grandmother's nursing home that she made a complaint to the Aged Care Complaints Commission. They told her no further action would be taken because there are no laws requiring nursing homes to have air conditioning installed.
Yes, you read that right. There are no laws, rules or regulations that make air conditioners mandatory in nursing homes. Not one!
How nursing homes can provide adequate care to elderly residents in one of the hottest climates in the world – without air conditioning – is beyond us.
That's why Ashley started an online petition calling on Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull, Minister for Health and Aged Care Sussan Ley and her local MP, Phillip Ruddock to make air conditioning mandatory in all aged care facilities.
Sadly, Ashley's grandmother died before anything was done and she was bitterly disappointed that the (then) Minister for Health Sussan Ley, did not respond in time for her grandmother to hear her response. Ashley was even more disappointed in the response.
Staff have told us that some residents were sweltering in non-air-conditioned bedrooms, in temperatures of nearly 40C or more. One agency nurse, who has worked for over 50 years in the industry, said excessive heat was "the tip of the iceberg'' and the system was "the worst it's ever been''.
You can show your support for air conditioning in nursing homes by sending a letter to your local MP or the Minister for Health expressing your support for mandatory air conditioning in nursing homes. Better still - copy and paste your letter via our contact form.