Ageism is so ingrained in our society that fixing social institutions like our aged care system is merely tinkering at the edges and not changing the substantial problem of age discrimination and bigoted attitudes.
That is what a national coalition of advocacy organisations (which includes National Seniors Australia), under the banner EveryAge Counts, has told the Aged Care Royal Commission.
The coalition says reviews of laws and regulations such as staff-to-resident ratios and quality of food in aged care are essential, but by themselves are not enough.
Until the underlying ageist attitudes, stereotypes and beliefs are addressed, the aged care problems cannot truly be fixed.
When we see older people as a big indistinguishable, separate group – ‘the elderly’ - and fail to see older people simply as people - as ourselves, it is much easier to apply and accept different standards and expectations.
Our aged care system is inevitably an institutionalised form of those social norms about the ‘otherness’ of older people.
In its submission to the royal commission, EveryAGE Counts recommends:
- changing the broader social and political norms in relation to older people, in order to address the problem at its source
- reforming laws and policy, and research to ensure the aged care system is informed by rights-based principles and the diversity of seniors aged care providers strengthen efforts to support the wellbeing of aged care consumers.