There are so many systemic and pervasive issues impacting on the care of older people both in the community and in residential aged care settings. Any of us who continue to work in these settings, know that even in “good facilities and good environments” we find regular examples of care practices that expose us to feelings varying from discomfort to downright despair.
Part of the problem is actually the “us”. That is that collective group of good people who continue to hang in there for all the right reasons to fight the fight. We acknowledge the issues and on many occasions feel them deeply in our heart but also feel we must hang in there and try and make a difference.
But can we genuinely continue to do so in a system which is so systemically flawed and in an environment where few real pervasive changes occur?
It is becoming increasingly apparent to me that despite the honorable intentions the pervasive culture of aged care may continue to suppress the “us”.
Yet again this week we were exposed to media regarding systemic organisational and individual abuses occurring in aged care settings. No this is not in all settings and in all environments and indeed, it would be reasonable to say, that there are many environments where confidently you could assume that no such abuses would occur but these examples represent a polarity of extreme outcomes from wider system issues.
These are issues which need to be addressed systemically for them to finally disappear from the aged care culture once and for all. This is an industry that is burdened with conflicting values and philosophies and where incongruity abounds.
Without a very true and genuine effort to change the “culture of aged care” and to fight the pervasive discrimination attached to the care of older people the “us” group have little room for success and many will continue to fall by the wayside as additional burnt out victims of aged “care”.
Even now I am painfully aware that I, and many of my contemporaries, are losing our voice as we additionally encounter the discrimination of ageism, the very evil that we have fought for so long. Perhaps it is no longer sexy to hear “us” and to use our experiential wisdoms built over many decades but rather replace them with “sexier” ways of recreating the same message via the same research fueled by an increasing research dollar which still DOES NOT translate into improved practices and care. (But that is another story for another time …filled with frustration…Ummmmm think….Groundhog Day)
So what are the potential responses to these long standing dilemmas which may contribute to meaningful and enduring changes in this industry?
My sense is (amongst other strategies) that;
- We must empower staff with knowledge and training which enables them to genuinely understand and feel what it might be like to be living your life as an older person in care settings.
- We must laden them with skills which encourage them to honour their clients in a most person centred way.
- We must value the concept of mentorship and surround staff with mentors and role models well prepared for the task.
- We must once and for all stamp out the ageist views of the community relating to ageing as well as confronting ageism in the aged care sector (bottom up and top down).
- We must implement programs which value and honour staff, both in remuneration and caring, for the work that they do.
- We must continue to do new things in new ways. Drawing from the experiences of other disciplines, other professions, other industries, other countries, to create positive and lasting change.
- We must acquaint all people working in aged care with the concept of values
- We must importantly bring love and empathy into ageing and aged care.
So, I am taking my personal responsibility for that in what I am calling the Lovie Project (i.e. putting the i back into Love).
I have been in self-imposed hibernation (predominantly licking emotional wounds from challenging experiences in this industry) and not communicating through my web page and blog, so part of my commitment is to change that discipline and communicate regularly in spreading the LOVE.
I want to only highlight incidents and examples of love and caring, in all their diversity, for other to emulate…so watch this space.
THE LOVE revolution has begun….WE HAVE TO BRING THE LOVE BACK INTO AGEING!!!! ♥ ♥
I have made contact with a number of other love bubbles that I have fortuitously manifested into my life which represent to me examples of loving care and practices across the world.
I aim to feature them and introduce their work and values over time and continue to collaborate with them on bigger projects to make a difference. Don’t talk to me anymore of bad practices of bad examples let us only put good out there and ensure that people appreciate that LOVE is an action word in ageing and aged care. ♥ ♥
So together we are putting the love back into Ageing – I promise – watch this space ♥