Economics: Super Seduction
Interview: Bono and Me
Unions: The Eight Hour Day and the Holy Spirit
Technology: From Widgets to Digits
Education: Dumb and Dumber
Health: No Place for the Young
History: The Work-In That Changed a Nation
Review: Dare to Win
Poetry: Labor's Dreaming
The Locker Room
Morals Beat Hasty Retreat
Uncounted Cost Of Asbestos
Voting Farce Expands
I Beg To Differ
No Place for the Young
Every day on average in Australia a young person with a disability goes to live in an aged care facility.
Its a shocking figure made worse by the fact that some of these people are younger than 10 years of age. The reason they are forced to accept a bed in an aged care facility is due to the lack of alternative accommodation to address their high or complex care needs.
Many of these young people have sustained catastrophic injuries in situations where compensation isn't available. Some have developed degenerative neurological diseases, such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease and Muscular dystrophy.
At the current rate of entry there will be over 10,000 young people living in aged care facilities by 2007.
One organisation, the National Alliance of Young People in Nursing Homes (YPINH) is leading the fight to stop this flood of people into aged care and to find alternative accommodation and care for them.
But the struggle is made harder by the fact that no records are kept by the Federal Government documenting which facilities these young people are living.
YPINH is calling for union members across the country who know of a young person in an aged care facility or facing the possibility to urge them and their family to get in touch with the alliance. (See contacts below)
Dr Bronwyn Morkham from YPINH explains: "Often people who find themselves trapped in a nursing home do not have the support network that they need to help them get out.
"It is an incredibly difficult job for families and the young people themselves to try and push their case when you have the bureaucratic maze of both the state and federal governments to negotiate in the area.
"One of the problems with aged care is that people who are there tend to get left alone. If no-one is taking up their case the chances of them getting out are very slim.
"These young people deserve to not be hidden away and forgotten but to have a chance to return to the community.
"It is an inappropriate place for young people to be cared for. Staff in many facilities do their absolute best to care for them but the therapy and treatment they often require as well as the social activities are just not available. Nursing homes are for people in the last years of their lives not in the prime of their lives."
The Health Services Union is supporting YPINH in its efforts to get young people out of nursing homes. HSU national secretary Craig Thomson said members working in aged care facilities would like nothing better than to see young people allowed to move to more approriate accommodation.
"It is hard for staff as well because they feel like they don't have the time or the expertise to give these young people they type of care they require," he said.
"It makes no sense and it is deeply concerning that more is not done by the state and federal government to provide alternative accommodation."
Vicky Smith, 34, who lives in a nursing home in Ballarat in Victoria is just one of the thousands of young people who do not want to live in an aged care facility.
She has been in a nursing home since she was 17, a year after she suffered a brain injury in a car accident. It has been a frustrating and at times deeply depressing experience for Vicky, separated from her family and people her own age and surrounded instead by the dying elderly.
Despite the isolation and the obstacles she faces, Vicky has been waging a campaign for a special facility in the area where young disabled people can live together.
"I think that all people that are either mentally or physically handicapped should have their own special accommodation (and) not put into old people's homes," she wrote in her submission to the current Senate inquiry into aged care.
People who have information about a young person living in a nursing home or who want to get in touch with Young People in Nursing Homes can call (03) 94825655 or email Bronwyn Morkham at [email protected]. More information about the alliance can be obtained at www.ypinh.org.au
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