Issues around access to services, exercising choice and navigating the NDIS are among the challenges that persist for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) seniors, Angela Quero tells Community Care Review.
For Angela Quero, the discussion about the aged care issues still facing CALD seniors and their families is personal.
“My parents were migrants, my mother is ageing,” says Quero, general manager of aged and disability services with Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre.
“I get it. I know how hard it is for the kids who are faced with the situation of an ageing parent, and how difficult it is to get information.”
Quero joined Spectrum two years ago, having spent decades working in aged and community care and seeing the sector from many perspectives. She has held roles in government departments, the former accreditation agency and as an independent consultant.
After a 13-year stint working in occupational health and safety at the Victorian health department, Quero moved to the former Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency around the time accreditation was being introduced to aged care.
Quero “absolutely loved” her role as a compliance and quality assessor in the agency, she says. “It taught me so much about the issues related to how to run a great business, how to provide exceptional care, and the elements of a service that really stood out.”
After a decade working at the agency, Quero went out on her own as a consultant, assisting organisations with developing quality and safety systems.
‘It’s amazing what we do’
Quero describes her role as general manager of aged and disability services with Spectrum as “one of the most varied jobs I’ve ever had.”
“It’s amazing what we do here,” she says of the centre that provides services to migrants and refugees across the lifespan.
Spectrum runs a large multicultural home support service employing 160 support workers who collectively speak up to 50 languages.
It provides assistance to CALD seniors who are struggling to access information and services, says Quero. “Often people know they need help but don’t know where to go. Our access and support program is designed to ensure we can assist those people to put them in touch with services that will help them.
“It’s working with the client and identifying and addressing the barriers – whether they’re language, literacy or transport issues,” she says.
Support workers also provide a range of direct services including personal care and domestic assistance, transport and social connection, she says.
“Our services mean that older people will be cared for by people who speak their language and understand their culture; the bilingual, bicultural aspect of delivering care is really important,” she says.
Spectrum also runs two centre-based respite programs catering to different ethno-specific groups, seven days a week. “They have a meal; they do activities, a little bit of exercise. It’s also about education; ensuring our clients can learn to look after themselves better while they’re at home.”
Navigating ongoing issues
For Quero, implementation issues from the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) are high on the agenda.
Spectrum has joined with local government and other providers to run community events to promote awareness of the NDIS among CALD people with disability and their families, as engagement with this group has been low, Quero says.
“We try to engage them and let them know the NDIS is coming; that they need to start thinking about what they want to achieve, because choice and control is quite an unusual concept for people from CALD backgrounds,” she says.
“In some languages you don’t have a goal, it’s not something an individual with a disability can express because they have a very different concept of disability… In some cultures the person with a disability is completely disempowered, somebody else makes decisions for them.”
Quero also flags the differing levels of choice available under the NDIS compared with the aged care system.
People who acquire a disability aged 65 and over are not eligible for the NDIS, but those under the age cut-off can enter the new scheme and age within it, she says.
“The benefits under the NDIS for somebody who is older are clearly much greater… The NDIS has the ability to talk one-on-one with clients and their family about what kind of supports they need.
“In the home care sector – either through the CHSP or the home care packages – you are limited. The home care package limits are already in place, and in the CHSP you have no capacity at this stage to say how you would like those services to be delivered,” she says.
“There’s still a bit of a way to go.”
This article appears in the current edition of Community Care Review magazine.
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