Elderly Australians are dying from the heat - we need air con in nursing homes now!
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My grandmother Joyce is aged 101 years old and is a resident in a Sydney Nursing Home.
Today (Feb 25th) the temperature exceeded 40 degrees celsius.
Without air conditioning my grandmothers room was like a sauna. She is now receiving palliative care and I know it's nearing her final days, I have done everything I can to ensure she has felt comfortable, safe and at peace. You can imagine my heartbreak today to hear her saying over and over again how hot she was and seeing her visible discomfort.
4 members of staff commented on the heat in my grans room as they came in to change sheets and administer medication.
The nursing homes suggested plan of action was to dab my gran with a damp cloth. They also made mention that they were giving out ice blocks to residents. That might be a very short term solution to some of the residents discomfort, however, for those residents who's condition is as weak and deteriorated as my grans, holding and feeding herself an ice block is not an option.
It is not mandatory to have air conditioning installed in Australian nursing homes.
As a voting Australian citizen I would like someone to please explain to me why it is mentioned in the Nursing Homes Regulation 1996 that air conditioning must be maintained and kept in working and operating condition, however, having air conditioning is not a legal requirement for a nursing home in NSW? There is no mention in the regulation that nursing homes must provide air conditioning, only that they must maintain existing air conditioning. So, if air conditioning was never installed, it doesn't need to be maintained and not installing it is not a breach of regulation?
It is well documented and commonly known that the elderly are the most vulnerable members of our community during a heat wave and on the many days of high temperatures during summer.
In the Victorian heat wave of 2009, 374 people died, 284 of those people were aged over the age of 75. More people were killed by the heat that year than by the fires of BlackSaturday. The majority of them were elderly.
To not have mandatory air conditioning in aged care facilities is irresponsible, careless and negligent.
According to the Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for exhibited animals, all animal enclosures must provide temperature and humidity control (section 3: S3.2i). So why does the Australian government care enough about the well being, comfort and care of zoo animals in Australia to create legislation in the interest of animal protection yet not show the same level of compassion and devotion to our elderly Australian citizens? I made a complaint to the Aged Care Complaints Commission who told me they acknowledge the discomfort of my grandmother, but that given the home has not breached any laws by not having air conditioning, they will not be taking any action.
The residents in our aged care facilities are the people that fought for our freedoms. They are the women that campaigned for the rights we have today. These are the generations that laid the foundations on which each of us have built our lives. They deserve respect, preservation of dignity and comfort during their last years on earth.
I would like to see an urgent amendment made to the regulation with the addition of mandatory air conditioning throughout all aged care facilities in Australia. We have one of the hottest climates on earth and in 2016 I think this issue is well overdue for review and prompt action.
The Minister for Health and Ageing Sussan Ley MP
Assistant Minister for Health and Ageing Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP
Member for Berowra
Hon. Phillip Ruddock
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
NSW Premier Mike Baird
https://www.nsw.gov.au/your government/contact-premier- new-south-wales
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