• Reflecting on 2022

    Reflecting on 2022

    As the end of the year approaches, it is hard not to reflect on the hardships experienced by older South Australians in 2022.

    Following the opening of the South Australian border, most aged care homes across the state were experiencing COVID outbreaks by January 2022.

    Early this year, we were still coming to grips with the virus and there was still great fear and anxiety in the community. For residents of aged care homes, it meant the introduction of visitor restrictions and limitations on movement within their home.

    Personal protective equipment was in short supply, and it was difficult to source the appropriate face masks, goggles, gloves, gowns, and other equipment.

    For almost all of 2022, staff were required to wear masks when working at an aged care home. Sadly, for residents, this meant that they were unable to see the faces of workers during this time. This can make it very difficult to communicate, especially for residents with hearing loss or memory problems.

    While staff continue to wear masks, it was wonderful to see residents enjoying Christmas functions again this December. Whilst homes continue to experience COVID cases with residents and staff, the risks are managed with vaccination and anti-viral medication. This does not diminish the complexities of living with the virus.

    It is a credit to the amazing people who work in aged care, especially considering that the sector has undergone, and continues to experience, significant reform changes recommended by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. This will continue in 2023 and 2024, with the introduction of additional mandatory quality indicators and care minute targets, planned changes to home care and the release of a new Aged Care Act and Aged Care Quality Standards. The aim is for a better system, which needs appropriate resourcing to succeed.

    As we look forward to 2023, let’s hope that life for older South Australians returns to something that more closely resembles pre-COVID, including being able to see the faces of the staff who care for them.

    Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck,
    Chief Executive Officer,
    Resthaven Incorporated

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