Human rights in aged care

Image source: Kate Swaffer ©️ 2017

The warehousing of our most vulnerable… older people who need assisted living, and people with dementia has consistently failed them. In Australia there is a Royal Commission into this; however I’d suggest the Coronavirus has highlighted this much more than the #ACRC.

The current Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted this, perhaps more than ever before. Sadly, even though there is a Royal Commission on this in Australia, many have been disinterested, including journalists. We are obviously not sexy enough…

In a recent Guardian Opinion article, How did we end up turning our care homes into jails of enforced by, it highlights what I’ve been saying for over a decade.

She looked like a prisoner. And in a way, that’s probably what she was.

In 2014 in a blog I wrote on human rights in residential aged care, I received a lot of very negative pushback privately, especially from owners of nursing homes, and people working in aged care. Of course, I accept no one goes to work wanting to do harm; it’s mostly the system that is broken.

But we must continue to question why it’s still ‘okay’ to warehouse people in institutional accomodation, and worse, then segregate people with dementia.

Many Aged Care facility owners are currently roughting funding opportunities made available during the COVID outbreak, which we can read about in an article by Dr Sarah Russell, Aged care operators exploit lockdown to squeeze more grants from Government!

As I’ve said before, it is usually purse-centred care, over person centred care.

In 2011 when my father in law was still alive and ‘living’ in a nursing home, I questioned myself and society in general:

Is this the best we can do for our loved ones? Why aren’t we prepared to make sacrifices for our loved ones any more? Is it because we have become far too selfish and needy of the trappings of a good life, or simply need the sense of self that comes from working outside of our families? 

At times like this, looking in the mirror is difficult… but oh so necessary.

10 thoughts on “Human rights in aged care

  1. In Nigeria we are quite slow on accepting Nursing homes and care homes. The culture is tough on that. I own a nursing home here and it has not been rasy running it as government is not interested or better put there is no social benefite for the older person in Nigeria. Right of older persons bill is yet to be passed and the people have to near the cost of care all by themselves. This leaves primary carers fraustrated. No medical relief for older persons either. I jave a case of one of my residents, her daughter inlaw has breast cancer and the only son is the soul bread winner of the family. The sick lady seeing the precarious state of affairs asked the son to look for a home to put her since he could not handle the care of both of them. In this case you can see that its not a case of neglect or lack of affection that brought the lady to our home neother is it selfishness but rather the opposite. There are different reasons for opting for a care home. I believe that it is the right of citizen to have an option whether to use the home or not. Jowever the owners or the people manning the homes ahould do so with a humane heart.


  2. Very apt comment about “warehousing” I had often used the word, “prison, jail, locked in.” I like warehousing better. It describes the packing, and stowing away of aged care. I get frustrated that people forget, or don’t understand that people living in Aged care facilities are actually retirees who happen to need a range of help. They are first and foremost retirees.


  3. Perhaps this is some little good that will come out of the COVID 19 experience. We need to take better care of our elderly and infirm. When will we realize that we need to treat them with the same love and care with which we will want to be cared for when it is our turn!


  4. It’s become a taboo subject to suggest that the younger generation may have some responsibility towards those who are older. Even typing this evokes guilty emotions in me. I just feel 1 have no right to expect even the level of support I was able to provide my parents. Maybe if there was sufficient support in place for care partners/family members, we could start to redress this balance xx


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