Why are the elderly not afforded the same rights and privileges as the young?
Recently, I got talking to a friend about the suite of services offered by Birthcare, the popular birthing centre in Parnell, Auckland where she has given birth to two of her children. While the same level of healthcare is offered by the centre to all mothers who stay at Birthcare, there are a number of other services available for an additional fee, depending on the individual requirements and circumstances of the mother.
For example, there are different levels of accommodation offered by the centre, from the standard, government-funded accommodation through to premium rooms that offer hotel-style comforts and are available at an additional cost.
My friend said that while the level of care remained consistent regardless of what level of accommodation and other services a mother chose, it was nice to have other service options available to purchase as required.
I found this discussion fascinating when looking at in comparison to aged care services. The Birthcare service model is exactly the sort of model that would work in aged care, yet currently the sector is not allowed to offer paid for add-on services.
Regardless of individual requirements or wishes, when a person comes into resthome care, they are offered a standardised level of nursing care, and an inflexible government-subsidised accommodation package.
The government-funded accommodation package generally provides a room and single bed with a bathroom.
While it’s crucial that there is a set standard of nursing care available to all elderly persons who come into care – this should never change regardless of individual situations – if a resident wishes to pay for additional accommodation packages and other services then I think they should be able to, but this simply isn’t an option under the current model.
This rigid approach to aged care seems completely unfair and disrespectful to aged persons and their families. If a family or the resident wishes to pay for add-on services that meet the individual requirements, such as larger rooms, bigger beds, various appliances or any other services that might make their stay more comfortable, why should they not be allowed this option in the same way that new mothers can also decide on what services and accommodation they would like at Birthcare?
The elderly and the young are arguably the most vulnerable in society, yet for some reason we seem to value those coming into the world more than we do those in their last years, who have worked hard all their lives and made a valuable contribution. The same rights and privileges should be afforded to the old that are afforded to the young. I want to see the same common sense approach that a birthing centre is able to offer, applied to the aged care sector. There is no escaping the fact that it is the aging population that is increasing, and the model has to change to accommodate this ever-more significant group in society, and meet their needs too.