Brian Herd, partner with Carne Reidy Herd Lawyers.

By Linda Belardi.

Aged care will overtake child care as Australia’s biggest social dilemma, a prominent aged care lawyer has told a conference of nurse managers on Thursday.

Brian Herd, a partner with Carne Reidy Herd Lawyers, said that family planning will become increasingly important as more ageing parents will be cared for by families at home.

He said the significant financial, legal and lifestyle issues arising from caring for ageing parents can lead to huge family stress and even implosion.

In his address to the Nurses in Management – Aged Care (NIMAC) conference in Queensland, he said that in many parts of the world governments had moved to provide legal protection of older people through filial support laws, which enshrine a family’s legal duty of care.

Over half of US states have filial responsibility laws and on July 1 China enacted a law which compels adult children to regularly visit parents over the age of 60, as well as to provide mental and financial support.

In the state of Pennsylvania, the filial responsibility legislation was enforced in 2012 to make a family member liable for US$93 000 care bill, when his mother left a nursing home and moved overseas. 

In Queensland, under the state’s criminal code, Mr Herd said an individual responsible for care can be charged for failing in their duty to provide care, including an aged care facility. However, no aged care facility has ever been charged under this legislation.

Mr Herd described the future as “the age of dependency”, where increased longevity would mean that older Australians would need to rely on their family for care. “We are seeing the corporatising of family care because residential care will not be able to keep up with demand,” he said.

In this context, Mr Herd emphasised the importance of written family agreements to help avoid family crisis and conflict over major decisions such as living and care arrangements and importantly who will pay for the cost of care.

Marketing aged care

Advertising, marketing and social media consultant, Dan Gregory also addressed the conference gathering on the topic of making aged care attractive to a new generation of workers.

He said in a labour force where every industry is competing for workers the aged care sector needed to be more daring and creative in branding and recruitment.

He challenged the sector to become a topic of conversation, to create a compelling narrative and not to be afraid to employ humour to capture community attention.

“The worse thing you can do is to be invisible,” he said.

“People gravitate to the truth to garner trust. Tell your truth in a courageous way and make others think differently about what you do.”

Taking aged care to its fundamental core, Dan Gregory’s own pitch for aged care branding was ‘I believe in human dignity’.

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  1. I’ve always be very wary of the aged care/child care analogy because it contains within it an underlying premise of dependence and a hint that ageing is like reverting to infancy. The Philadelphia case sounds like the lawyers there have got out of control on this!

  2. Totally agree about the analogy. It ignores the value and role older people perform irrespective of dependancy. However I agree that some family members abrogate their financial and moral responsibility to care for older people. However this is difficult to legislate for. Particulalry if you consider that some older people have not provided the care and responsibility for their children so the question has to be asked why should they expect their children to provide that care for them.
    It is a difficult and complex question that perhaps should be managed with civil not criminal processes that factor in the social circumstance.

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