‘Keep an eye on the elderly people in your life’ is the simple but heartfelt message from a gathering of aged care professionals.
The Forrest Centre on Wednesday hosted a conference of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), the peak body for aged care service providers.
Brendan Moore, the state manager of LASA, who was in Wagga, said if there was one message he could share with the community, it would be to encourage people to stayed connected with the elderly.
Mr Moore’s comments follow a speech by Minister for Ageing Ken Wyatt to the National Press Club, during which he revealed that as many as 40 per cent of aged care residents did not regularly receive visitors.
This statistic, Mr Moore said, showed how important it was to give people options for their aged care, as many wanted to be able to stay in their own communities where they had friends and commitments.
“Sometimes people’s families have moved away, so it is their friends from their own communities who they want to stay close to,” he said.
Mr Moore said aged care centres took a broad approach to helping their residents stay connected to their communities.
He said some centres kept animals like chickens, while others had programs of visiting performances and displays.
Evan Robertson, the chief executive officer of The Forrest Centre, said one of the more unusual, but well-received, activities at the Lewisham Avenue facility, was the recent display of a massive model train collection.
Rural communities also face the addition challenge of finding adequate qualified staff, Mr Moore said.
“Aged care is becoming a major employer,” Mr Moore said.
While the industry was currently meeting demand, he said Australia’s ageing population would mean continued growth in the needs of the sector, from people to staffing.
Mr Robertson said The Forrest Centre currently employed about 250 people.
Mr Moore said while parts of the aged care industry were becoming increasingly specialised, it was still a sector that offered a range of jobs for people with a range of qualifications.