Highlighting Young People in Aged Care

Sleeptite CEO Cameron van den Dungen (l), joined by Australian Program Partners RMIT & Sleepeezee. Image credit: ©Mark Dadswell  Read more:  http://hospitalhealth.com.au/content/aged-allied-health/article/new-technology-to-reduce-patient-falls-from-bed-30385667#ixzz5cXRBlRoa

This is not a topic I ever thought I would include in a discussion about the Aged Care industry, but recently when researching some statistics for Sleeptite, I came across a group of people that I felt compelled to write about.

Let’s start by taking you on a little journey…

How old are you? Are you in your 20s? 30s? 40s? Maybe even a Gen Z member that stumbled across this post whilst developing your ambition to be a ‘Social Influencer’.

Whatever your age – just for a moment; imagine if something terrible happened to you. Just close your eyes and imagine. Terrible in the sense of a car crash or a work injury and as a result you now have a severe disability.

I hate to do it to you, but please continue to imagine…

Imagine that no one in your circle of friends, relatives, neighbours, etc. is capable of taking care of you.

Where would you go? What would you do? How helpless would you feel?

Could you then imagine being placed in a residential aged care facility? 

This is the reality for more than 6,000 young people in Australia. That’s right, 6,000 people under the age of 65 with serious disabilities.

To put things in perspective, 6,000 people is roughly the capacity of Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne.

YOUNG people in AGED care.

Did you know this was a thing? Because I surely did not.

It does not matter if you are 17 or 49, being placed in an aged care facility surrounded with people that are in the last stages of their lives can be extremely detrimental to your well being and outlook. To be blunt… it would be devastating.

So why do young people with disabilities sometimes end up in residential aged care?

When someone experiences a life-changing injury that drastically changes their entire existence there isn’t always sufficient resources or possibilities to continue living from home. Sometimes being placed in an aged care home is the only solution.   

Sometimes it is too much to handle for the families and they cannot take care of their loved ones anymore. Other times, young people have to make this decision themselves. Jacinta Douglas - Professor of acquired brain injury at La Trobe University – explains that sometimes people in these situations are left with no time, no knowledge and no choice

After a major health crisis there’s not always enough time to consider all relevant factors and make the right decision. It’s also hard to attain the right information about living solutions when you are going through such a life-altering change.

And finally… there is a major lack of sufficient alternatives to aged care.

This is where not-for-profits such as the Summer Foundation come in. Established in 2006, the Summer Foundation exists with the goal of resolving the issue of young people living in aged care homes – mainly because of the major social and mental impact this peculiar living situation can have on someone.

“It reduces their independence and limits their ability to reach their potential. It is also socially isolating: 82 percent of younger people in residential aged care rarely or never visit their friends and around 13 percent never go outside,” Luke Bo’sher, CEO of the Summer Foundation, explains.

So why am I highlighting this subject? Well, I work for an aged care health-tech start up. For the past year, my work-life has revolved around aged care content. There are a lot of emotional matters in this field.

But when I come across this specific subject, I was baffled.  Maybe because I actually had no idea this was a thing. And perhaps you didn’t either?  

So that’s what I wanted to do. Enlighten myself by researching this topic and thereby enlighten you.

As many of us already know, the Royal Commission is currently looking at the quality of care provided in residential and home aged care for senior Australians. Please remember that this commission will also include young Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care settings.

Let’s ensure they’re not forgotten. That their voices are heard too.  

So, whatever your age – whether you are 25, 38 or 46, I hope you’ve learnt something today. Where do young Australians with disabilities sometimes end up? In aged care. Why? Because we are in desperate need of more options.

By Sheida Danai

 

Sheida Danai