Amidst the many COVID-19 outbreaks and enforced lockdowns across the nation, there has never been such a time of disempowerment for older Australians within residential aged care facilities (RACFs).
However, a new platform has been established to provide our elders with a means of voicing their concerns and experiences with the public.
Dr Sarah Russell, director of Aged Care Matters, has established a new blog titled Residents Matter within which aged care residents can contribute personal testimonies of their daily lives.
“To protect people’s privacy, all contributors will be given a pseudonym,” Russell notes.
Already, two contributors feature on the blog, depicting the compounding challenges of an already pressured system descending into further chaos due to prolific outbreaks of COVID-19.
A resident under the pseudonym of ‘Rose’ notes that she has been confined to her room for eight days now, with notice given in a rash and tactless manner.
“Last night, residents were woken at midnight, by staff in full PPE, told we have a positive COVID case, needed to undergo immediate testing,” she writes.
“People were frightened, crying, not understanding what was happening.
“Surely this could have been handled better.”
She adds that gardeners within the facility have been redeployed as waiting staff, as nurses and personal care workers are run off their feet.
Another resident ‘Joan’, aged 84, says that whilst she believes to be living in “one of the better homes”, being locked down for most of January has begun to take its toll on residents and staff alike.
“The fact that we have no air conditioning in our rooms doesn’t help,” she writes.
“The poor carers must feel like they are living in a sauna with all the plastic garb they have to wear in this hot weather.
“It is having a very bad effect on some of our more vulnerable residents as well.
“Some of our residents like to spend the day walking up and down, outside and in. Now they are confined to their rooms they must be getting very restless and fretful.
“Everyone here has been vaccinated three times and no one has been hospitalised as far as I know.
“I realise that being confined to our rooms is for our own benefit but there surely must be another way of safeguarding us or at least entertaining us. There is not much to do when confined to a small room day after day with no one to speak to.”