Forum examines Bendigo region aged care issues

CONCERNS over aged care and an ageing population were discussed at a community forum in Bendigo yesterday. 

Federal Minister for Mental Health, Ageing, Social Inclusion, Housing and Homelessness Mark Butler spoke of government reforms in the sector and took questions from attendees. 

He said Australia’s ageing population would place stress on the aged care system as more people needed assistance. 

But he said the challenge was not only in providing services, but ensuring people had good quality of life. 

“How do we make sure those 25 years of additional life remain good years?” he said. 

“That is a tough challenge. 

“What a tragedy it would be if people spent those 25 years feeling isolated, feeling unhealthy and feeling disrespected.” 

Mr Butler said improvements needed to be made to how people’s final wishes were recorded and carried out amid a “deep sense of unease” over how people passed away, with issues in keeping people alive with machines. 

Heathcote Health community engagement and healthy lifestyles officer Michelle den Elzen raised concerns over an apparent lack of home maintenance for elderly people in Heathcote. 

She asked for consideration for public housing to be given to people with compromised circumstances who weren’t yet ready for residential care. 

“I think I was happy with his response,” she said. “He identified there is a gap and that there’s a lot they need to work on in relation to the issues. 

“So hopefully there is more consultation.” 

Sue Spencer asked Mr Butler about Aged Care Gateway, which aims to provide healthcare access through modern technology.

He said this would be developed in stages. 

Mayor Lisa Ruffell said there had been a lack of aged care information when she had looked for services for her parents, and Mr Butler said a central system would be created. 

He said the government’s age care reforms, which would add residential care places, dementia care funding, and funds to improve the aged care workforce, were being rolled out over the next 10 years in two stages.

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