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A revolution in CALD aged care

7 January 20140 comments

CALD aged care picAged care and ageing services for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people are set to undergo revolutionary change as Australia comes to grips with an ageing population and spiralling public health bills.

Former senior bureaucrat and academic Professor Peter Shergold, who heads the Federal Government’s Aged Care Reform Implementation Council (ACRIC), says we are on the verge of “potentially monumental change in the aged care sector”.

“New initiatives can, if implemented with courage and vision, deliver the sorts of services we want,” Prof Shergold told the recent Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils (FECCA) 2013 Conference held on the Gold Coast.

“Aged care is a large, complex and diverse area of public policy. There is a diversity of providers and both public and private and including the not-for-profit sector,” he said.

“There are three things that are key to the reforms we are seeking – diversity, choice and flexibility.

“There shouldn’t be a ‘one size fits all’ in aged care. We need to give people from different ethnic cultural and religious backgrounds access to services that are culturally appropriate and sensitive to their needs or previous traumatic experience.

“It is clear that services are best delivered in ways that are sensitive to the person’s cultural background or religion,” he said.

Professor Shergold said giving people choice was also a priority for the council.

“This is about giving the citizen the right to get what he or she needs; the right to live a full, engaged life,” he said.

“It’s about saying ‘here’s the package’, here are the dollars – now you choose what you want.”

Officially labelled ‘Consumer Direct Care’, Professor Shergold described the approach as “services that can be wrapped around an individual with the support of community organisations”.

Queensland Assistant Minister for Health and former geriatrician Dr Chris Davis told the conference that reforms of aged care and health services for the aged were needed because of the costs associated with a rapidly ageing population and the rise in lifestyle related diseases.

He said smart, integrated delivery systems could make Australia’s public hospitals more efficient.

“We need to learn about good governance in our hospital systems while ensuring we focus on the patient,” Dr Davis said.

He said the financial sustainability of hospitals was an issue with costs in Queensland rising 10% a year cumulatively.

Dr Davis said a challenge for the aged care system was caring for people from CALD backgrounds who reverted to their first language as dementia set in.

“Skills acquired later in life often drop off with age and people revert to their mother tongue. This can be problematic for people trying to care for them,” he said.

Dr Davis said changing demographics meant people were living longer, surviving illness and becoming physically, mentally and socially frail.