Fine providers who strip residents of independence, says industry expert

Residential aged care providers who create a culture of dependency should receive financial penalties, according to an industry expert.

Residential aged care providers who create a culture of dependency should receive financial penalties, according to director of the Global Centre for Modern Ageing Dr Mike Rungie.

Speaking on the ABC Radio National Big Ideas panel at the Australian Association of Gerontology conference last week, Dr Rungie said: “If you make a person more dependent than they actually are, and then have to provide services because they are more dependent, then you should pay for that.”

All too often, people come into residential aged care and lose their independence, said Dr Rungie. “The most important thing, older people have told us, is having something to do. They need to have things to do,” he said. “What residential aged care does, it strips off all those things you did the day you move in, strips them off you, and doesn’t replace them with anything else except a bit of entertainment.”

Dr Mike Rungie

The problem, Dr Rungie told delegates seated in the main hall of the Adelaide Convention Centre, is “there are no pressures on aged care to change.” Dr Rungie said providers should face similar pressures as those put upon fossil fuel firms who pollute the environment.

“What would happen if aged care had the same pressures on it to change that we’re seeing coming through with climate change?” asked Dr Rungie, a long-serving aged care executive and industry leader. “If you pollute the Earth, increasingly you will have to pay for it. Why don’t we do that in aged care?”

“On the whole, this is not a good service model.”

A regular visitor to aged care facilities, Dr Rungie said it was quite common “for management to trot out a resident who is doing well.” However, he told delegates, “If you duck around the corner, you can find hundreds that aren’t.” He added: “On the whole, this is not a good service model.”

To improve, the sector needs to do more than reform, said Dr Rungie, it needs to transform. “It’s a very different process. It starts with a blank sheet to design something from the point of view of a good frail life.”

Dr Rungie told delegates he has asked dozens of aged care providers if they could tell him what a good frail life looks like. “I haven’t yet found one who can tell me. And if you don’t know that, you cannot provide good aged care.”

Main image: Dr Mike Rungie (far right) appearing on an AAG conference discussion panel

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Tags: aag, conference, dependency, Dr Mike Rungie,

2 thoughts on “Fine providers who strip residents of independence, says industry expert

  1. Dr Rungle offers some very disappointing generalisations. The reason most people enter aged care is because they’ve lost their independence (Its not the other way round)
    How about telling us exactly what a good ‘frail life’ looks like for an immobile, deaf, blind, hemiplegic resident with advanced dementia? I think you’re confusing residential care with bingo night at the local seniors center.
    Your climate change analogy is curious, considering the global response over the past twenty years has largely been apathy, inaction and denial.
    Armchair experts with their utopian delusions continue to miss the point…without a well staffed, highly skilled and properly remunerated workforce these ideas are just aspirational babble

  2. I see a few pretty competent people in nursing care so I agree. Everyone wants to contribute. It may not be easy to think of ways to do that. It can be invaluable

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