Scenario; Only a year ago, privatisation of aged care community…Scenario;Only a year ago, privatisation of aged care community services began in Sunnyshores when the Home and Community Care (HACC) bus service was privatised. The shopping run for older people made by the HACC community bus, was taken over by the local private bus company, as HACC, it was argued, no longer had enough resources to maintain it. This experience has been problematic for many older people and the volunteer carers who assisted them on and off the bus and helped take their shopping into their homes. It has been particularly challenging for older people with a disability. For some it has been traumatic. Older people who had used the HACC community bus service, say that only some older people now use the local bus company to do their shopping. Many simply do not have the energy or mobility to use the commercial bus. A survey found that older people using the commercial bus say they miss the companionship of their friends on the former community bus and their relationship with the volunteer driver Nick, whose smile and welcome interest in them was a highlight of the week for many. Those who cannot use the local commercial bus and need help getting shopping into their houses, if wealthy, have been trying to use local taxis. However, most are not wealthy enough to regularly pay for taxis. Carers and volunteers have raised concerns that social isolation has increased, networks have slipped away among friends they had in their age group who also used the community bus. Volunteers are feeling more stretched and concerned, for example, about older people they know of who are eating very little in order to save money and energy getting groceries. After such negative experiences with the privatisation of the community bus shopping run, the privatisation of all HACC services in Sunnyshores (and all of NSW as well as all other states), has raised alarm among older people, volunteers and HACC workers in Sunnyshores as some stories have circulated about poorer treatment by private providers. Rumours have spread that a private community care provider, in a nearby town, is charging extra administration fees, with the result that older people’s care packages ‘buy’ less for them; those older people now get two less showers a week. It is also claimed that unemployed staff from the closed Dick Smith’s store in the town, are being employed at a cheaper rate, by this private provider in roles where professional staff should be employed. Questions are being raised in the community and among the families and volunteers about how this market model of community care will provide for those older people who have diverse needs, such as Indigenous people in outlying areas of this rural community or older people with a disability. Wider questions are also being raised, for example, of whether private market driven services can move past having limited expectations or conceptualisations of what might be possible for older people with disability? And if they do, will the market risk development of innovative programs? Many older people, especially those with disability (generally defined as those who have disability prior to age 65, rather than those ‘ageing into disability’), experience isolation. Is there a danger of one to one companionship at best being provided rather than supporting wider community inclusion (as the community bus encouraged)? Older people have been told that this market approach gives them more choice, but what choice and options do older people have when services are swamped with demand or older people live in a rural community, such as Sunnyshore? Given the level of concern of older members of the Sunnyshores community, senior bureaucrats from the Federal Government’s Department of Health (now responsible for aged care), are meeting in Sunnyshores, with older people, their carers, current Community Care employees, and a potentially interested private service provider ( South Coast Investments Insurance Company). The bureaucrats will represent the Minister for the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, the Honourable Hon Richard Colbeck (in the Morrison government), who will inform the Minister about the local concerns. QUESTION;How can ageism theory be applied to this scenario and how can I as a social worker advocate for the older people in this community so that they don’t loose their independence Social ScienceSociology SOCIOLOGY 2020
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