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How Is Australia's Aging Population Supported by the Australian Health Care System?

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How is Australia's aging population supported by the Australian Health Care System?


Since 1901 Australia's elderly population has had a dramatic rise with it estimated that 65-year olds make up just under 15% of Australia's population (Northern Health Research). The median age of the country has risen from 22 to 35 years and people age 0-14 has decreased from 35.1% in 1901 to 20.7% in 2001 (Mayne Health Research). As this "greying of the nation" continues mirroring global trends, there has been an influx of residents admitted into aged care facilities around the country. The aim of this report is to perform a case study on an elderly member of the community cared for at the St. Paul's Aged Care Centre in Caboolture, after visiting the facility every Friday for a period of five weeks. Not only will the residents health be investigated but also the effectiveness of the aged care centre to cater for the rights and needs of the residents in relation to the Ottawa Charter. Suggestions will be made on how the centre could be improved in the future culminating in a detailed summary of the report's findings.


Upon commencing weekly visits, each group of students was assigned a particular resident and advised to monitor their health, behaviour and needs. After being assigned an elderly gentleman by the name of Ken, it quickly became evident the reasoning behind his care. Ken was suffering the early stages of dementia often forgetting names and having short-term memory loss. According to the Alzheimer's Association in Queensland, early stages of dementia involves the destruction of brain cells in isolated areas often with first signs being short-term memory loss. He was also suffering severe arthritis of the left knee that seemed to be afflicting each of his elbows as well. Arthritis is a term loosely applied to inflammatory, metabolic, or degenerative diseases involving one or more of the joints (Collier's Encyclopedia). It is a prevalent, crippling disease affecting tens of millions worldwide ( The final health concern noticed was Ken's social unacceptance. Often reluctant to join in with conversations and games, Ken seemed very isolated and lonely, probably further reinforcing the signs of dementia setting in.


On completion of the weekly visits and looking back on the time spent with the residents, it is obvious to recognise the needs of many, especially Ken. Due to his arthritis Ken required a walker to enhance his mobility. Without the walker Ken found it extremely difficult to move around. It was also evident the assistance he needed when trying to pick things up and dressing. On one occasion he was removing a jumper and couldn't get it over his head without the help of a nurse. Another of Ken's needs was supervision. Although he seemed quite independent, often he required someone to instruct him on what to do, as on occasions he just seemed lost more than likely due to dementia. Ken is also catered for with all food being prepared by the staff. He did have access to a kitchen and cups of tea and coffee but in our presence seemed reluctant to utilise this luxury. The final area noted in terms of Ken's needs was the fact that his laundry was attended to by the staff. Although given the option to do personal laundry, when asked Ken simply replied,

"Nah, I always forget to put in the powder so I don't do it any more."

In terms of facilities available to Ken and the residents, a number were observed. These included numerous outdoor settings ensuring privacy when talking with other residents. Hairdressers often visited attending to individuals within the centre. Diversional and assistant diversional therapists were employed attending to both groups and individuals. Doctors visited weekly and were on-call with residents allowed access to their own doctors if they were in the area. There was also a physiotherapist attending to the rehabilitation of residents suffering from arthritis or other injuries. Exercise sessions were provided and residents were given opportunities to attend scheduled bus trips. A pastor from a local parish church attends the centre for approximately eight hours a week to ensure residents' spiritual needs are addressed with a special area available for the observance of spiritual activities ( Visits from family members and friends were allowed and encouraged to take place and finally word games and bingo were played. The importance of these services and facilities cannot be stressed enough for they provide the only form of physical, social and mental wellbeing. They help to keep residents like Ken safe, aware and active and through doing so, help to maintain a quality of life that all people deserve.


Many of the services and facilities mentioned above are in conjunction with Ottawa Charter principles and thus help to ensure the health of the residents. The first being the whole facility itself. The St. Paul's Aged Care Centre, funded through the governments public policy is a health service providing care for the sick and elderly that families can't provide themselves. It undergoes stringent accreditation measures every five years ( which is reorienting the health service and ensuring that the facility is providing the adequate care required by law. From visits it was observed that on the whole the centre was a warm caring facility providing a supportive environment for each of the sixty residents. The fact that meals and laundry services are provided helps to foster a nurturing stress free environment encouraging health and wellbeing of the residents. The weekly visits by the local pastor are in accordance with social justice and allow the residents to maintain their spiritual skills through accessing this service. Visits from doctors and the fact that physiotherapists and diversional therapists are present within the facility also nurture health through a supportive environment catering for the physical and social needs of individuals within the facility. Finally residents are encouraged to maintain their personal skills through maintenance of their room and given the opportunity to do personal laundry. Both help to facilitate dignity and independence, which has been proven to have health benefits (





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