Sean Rooney and Anne Brewer at the LASA Tri-State Conference

The nation’s leaders need to drive a national focus on creating a culture of respect for older Australians, says the CEO of an aged care peak body. 

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety raised questions about the value of seniors and those who care for them.

“One of the fundamental questions… raised by the royal commission is what value do we place on older Australians and indeed what value do we as a community place on the individuals who care for them and the organisations that provide that care,” Mr Rooney told a press conference at the LASA Tri-State conference in Albury on Monday.

He said creating a culture of respect needed leadership.

“When the royal commission was announced the Prime Minister said he wanted to build a national culture of respect for older Australians.

“We would say that needs to be backed up by actions. And we need to see our national leaders out there talking about ageing not as a burden or as a problem, but actually as a sign of success of our society,” Mr Rooney said.

Creating a culture of respect also involves finding ways to better enable and support the ageing population to contribute to their communities and families as they choose, he said.

Tips on preparing for an evacuation

Mr Rooney also acknowledged aged care workers and residents affected by recent bushfires.

“The bushfires that have ravished Australia this summer have been traumatic for many people. Thankfully for aged care, we didn’t see any losses of lives, but we saw significant evacuations and significant stress,” Mr Rooney said.

“My heart goes out to all of those affected by the bushfires,” he said.

Mr Rooney commended the work of all the aged care staff who ensured residents were safe during the bushfires.

Conference speaker Anne Brewer was among many people in Victoria’s east Gippsland area who were evacuated from their home in the final week of December.

Ms Brewer, who is the manager of nursing service Buchan Bush Nursing Association, took part in a panel discussion on learnings from a catastrophic emergency.

She said focusing on what you can do was the key to coping during an emergency evacuation.

“It’s easier to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t, and I can’t stress that strongly enough,” Ms Brewer told the press conference.

“The things you can’t control are always on the periphery but it’s about what you can control. And certainly that made it easier for me,” she said.

As part of her role at Buchan Bush Nursing, Ms Brewer assisted people in the community to pack and prepare for an emergency evacuation.

“It was about preparing, making sure they had adequate medications and making sure they had enough packed to last a few days,” she said.

She said it was important to plan well.

“You need plan A, B and C. If this doesn’t work, then you try that,” Ms Brewer said.

“Planning is key to survival.”

The LASA Tri-State Conference takes place on 24 – 25 February at the Albury Entertainment Centre.

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