Advocacy in rural residential aged care facilities
Collins, Robyn and Allen, Sonia and Barnett, T, Advocacy in rural residential aged care facilities, Making an Impact, 11th National Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing: Conference proceedings, 19-20 November 2012, Brisbane, Australia, pp. 72-75. (2012) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Currently, approximately half of all Australians over 65 years of age require some form of assistance to manage their activities of daily living. It is estimated that around 5.3% of the Australian population receive care in one of 3000 formal residential aged care facilities (RACF). Most of these residents (70%) are receiving high level care. While approximately 150,000 Australians currently reside in RACFs, this figure is expected to rise dramatically as the percentage of the population over 65 years is predicted to almost double by 2047.
Provision of future residential aged care services/programs will need to accommodate increasing community expectations to meet the needs of older people in ways that are flexible, responsive and considerate of Australia's cultural diversity. The proportion of Australia’s aged people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds is growing at a faster rate than the general Australian aged population. As these trends emerge, the importance of advocacy on behalf of those people in RACFs becomes increasingly more evident.
Formal advocacy services are largely absent in rural areas. In rural RACFs advocacy becomes the responsibility of families and significant others of residents. Advocacy provides residents, through their families and friends, with a voice that they otherwise might not have, ensuring that the services they receive are consumer-oriented and tailored to their individual needs. It is this advocacy that ensures appropriate attitudes to elders and their roles / status within their culture and community.
This paper discusses rural RACF advocacy and collaboration as perceived by family members and significant others of residents within rural settings (RACFs) of Gippsland, Victoria. The importance of this study is in its impact on the promotion of improved collaborative practice within RACFs generally.