MEDIA RELEASE: Aged care must cater for ALL older Australians

Aged care strategies designed to meet the specific needs of older Australians from different ethnic backgrounds or from the LGBTI communities are critically important to ensure all older Australians have access to safe, appropriate, high quality consumer directed care when they need it .

 Ian Yates, Chief Executive of COTA Australia , representing over 500,000 Australian seniors, said the CALD and LGBTI strategies being launched by the Federal Government will be welcomed by older people .
“ Older people from diverse cultural backgrounds and from lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and intersex communities can have a negative experience of aged care when their specific needs aren’t recognised or accommodated,” Mr Yates said.
“Imagine if you and your family spoke one language at home all your life and t hen suddenly you had to move into an aged care home where only a different language was spoken; and you had to eat food foreign to you; and you were expected to leave all the cultural norms you’d lived with all your life at the door. English speakers would not put up with it but we have expected CALD people to do so for far too long.

“Similarly a person who has had a long term same sex partnership often feels they can’t celebrate or even acknowledge that love in aged care settings where the dominant culture won’t accept or even recognise it.

“Entering the aged care system can be stressful at the best of times but add a layer of cultural or societal difference and the experience can be harrowing for those older people involved , and their families .

“It is vital that aged care in Australia is provided in such a way that it is equally accessible to all Australians, and that the care is individual and recognises the diversity of our society.

Mr Yates said the strategies being launched by the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, provide a good roadmap for reducing discrimination in aged care services based on ethnicity or sexuality.

“ Unfortunately a level of discrimination and disadvantage does exist in aged care, as advocates have been telling us for many years; and it’s welcome to see this being taken on by the Federal Government.

“ Simple strategies such as producing multilingual materials, inclusive language, and understanding health issues prominent amongst particular groups can have a positive impact on a person’s experience of aged care. ”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Anastasia Stomo 0432 243 389