Supporting the Australian care community

Oct 18, 2022 | ExSitu News

The official mandate of ExSitu is to provide care plans to as many Australians as possible. We’re working tirelessly with our trusty hierarchy of values to raise the voices of Australians in aged care. And we’ve made a commitment to raising the advance care plan adoption rates in Australia through normalising planning in palliative care and end-of-life situations.

What you may not know is the breadth of ExSitu’s commitment to the Australian care community overall.

Here’s an outline of what we’re doing to support the Australian care community and those who receive it’s services

Advocating for ageing in place

a tree overlooking wollongong beach where we look after the australian care community

Photo by Liam Pozz on Unsplash

Yes, we work with a whole host of aged care facilities to meet the needs of their growing list of clients. But we’re also firm believers in choice. And that means actively promoting the knowledge, tools and services that allow Australians to age in place as well. That’s with or without other at-home aged care service providers. And accessing any of the aged care services available on the individual’s terms.

What makes us concerned is most Australians don’t understand that they can access temporary or permanent care solutions that can support them ageing in place at any stage of their journey. And unfortunately, that means a heck of a lot of Australians don’t opt for at-home care solutions until necessity dictates they need more support than they anticipated.

We want more people to stay in their homes longer without a reduction of quality of life. Therefore, we do what we can to normalise aged care generally and asking for help early from at-home care services as much as we can.

Creating space for LGBTQIA and Indigenous voices

It’s amazing to see how far inclusion has come in this country. The Australian care community is really working hard to ensure that access to culturally appropriate, inclusive and supportive care is provided to the LGBTQIA+ and Indigenous communities.

But we’re not there yet.

The research and the surveying of marginalised communities is only starting to arrive on a policy level across the board. And that means a whole heck of a lot of work needs to be done in unpacking systemic issues, improving frontline cultural literacy and even implementation.

Then and only then can we claim that aged care and healthcare reform has occurred.

Reshaping expectations of family

You’ll notice we use the term “loved one” and actively challenge the notion of relying on family support at end-of-life or aged care with blogs like “where there is no family.” That’s because we understand that the health system has a view of family and what is available there that doesn’t reflect the reality of thousands (if not millions) of Australians.

Dysfunction, abuse, neglect and estrangement are absent in the planning or educational literature about healthcare, aged care and/or end-of-life. And because it’s not challenged, it potentially excludes people who don’t fit into what family is meant to mean under this narrow definition.

With less marriage, more couples choosing to not to have children, more singles parenting alone and more people living away from family across Australia and the world, many of the ideas of what support means in a traditional sense are already dated.

Add to that the complexity of family estrangement, dysfunction, loss or making family through friends instead of biology and we have to reshape the approach entirely.

We chose to be an agnostic product that didn’t exclude by assumption as we understand personally and professionally how harmful assumption can be. There are micro-aggressions in assuming the nature of relationships, identity and what family means are uniform. And these assumptions are embedded in the legal, systemic and social aspects of care. That has to change.

Exploring the highs and lows of the Australian care industry

If you’ve ever sat down with the ExSitu newsletter and a cup of tea, you won’t walk away comparing it to the standard healthcare fare.

While it lays us incredibly bare at times, we do what we can to use narrative voice to explore the industry and the issues we face.

Our approach was born out of the desire to stop seeing aged care slaughtered in the news and our colleagues and peers blush with shame. We know that there are issues. We also know we have to do a lot of work to fix things. And that all of the Australian care community does a heck of a lot with very little when you are looking at the frontline.

However, we believe we have to talk about the problems to relieve the stress and strain. If we spend all our time batting away the news articles and not pretending there is a problem, we invite little to no chance of change. Conversely, if we’re forever soaking in the negativity and the shame associated with people’s opinions of our industry, we’ll never have the gumption or the elbow grease necessary to make the changes required.

There has to be a balance where we actively seek to learn by doing with an equal measure of critical thinking and self-respect. And we have to continue to work through it as a united care industry that is both accountable and optimistic for the future.

And that’s why we write the newsletter we write – good, bad or indifferent.

Actively promoting death literacy

ExSitu sells care plans and the hierarchy of values. Our twin flames are primarily aged care and end-of-life care plans. Time spent in end-of-life and as nurses in our previous life created conditions where we developed a healthy interest in death literacy.

The trouble is, it is not one the average person or even care providers share.

In the Australian care community, we need to stop stumbling over the words death or end-of-life, put down the ‘passed away’ protections and say what we need to say. We need to challenge the reticence to talk about end-of-life and normalise the benefits of death literacy. We need to promote the importance of the end-of-life conversation.

Not only for people who are facing end-of-life and/or entering aged care. But for the benefit of people within the care community who die prematurely through illness, disease, disability and lifestyle.

And we need to get comfortable with death literacy to tackle other topics that can make a person wriggle like suicide, premature loss of life through alcohol usage or drug addiction or disability.

If we don’t actively seek to challenge the siloed natures of these conversations, we will still see 55,000 Australians die earlier and without a proper plan. Or live with the aftereffects of older male suicide through not piercing the stigma that surrounds mental health issues.

As advocates for care, we believe it’s important to raise the curtain for one area to bring sun to them all.

Giving ageing Australians their individuality

What started as a point of annoyance back in the nursing days has become a mini campaign of it’s own. And that is combatting ageism by giving back older Australians their individuality.

The Baby Boomers get a horrendous rap. These people are trailblazers who broke open major changes to family makeups and made divorce and single parenting and co-parenting functional. They stood up against war and conscription, challenged as women for the right to work in everywhere from after marriage to in the Illawarra steelworks. They marched as the 78ers to give the LGBTQIA+ community basic human rights, no matter the cost. They were the Indigenous activists who used the Tent Embassy, art, song, political activism, Mabo and more to give back pride to the Indigenous generations of today. More than a few of them tied themselves to trees, marched or stood in the way of terrible catchphrases like “this is the way it’s always been” to challenge things.

And now, they’re apparently written up as technical luddites with a caps lock key, massive property portfolio and no clue about the concerns of society.

We’re not buying it. And neither are the Boomers.

ExSitu accepts the sass and spirit as part of the change needed to reform the systems the Boomers are now critiquing in health, aged care and disability. And that these newly minted lived experience experts and their desire for individualised, customised and well-rounded approaches to care will share the Australian care community and our approach for the benefit of future generations.

And that’s why we do what we can inspire that sometimes fractious, sometimes cheeky, occasionally annoying but always spirited side of the ageing Australian receives the appropriate coverage and respect.

If you wish to participate in our approach to the Australian care community, this is what you can do:

Invite us to speak your events – we’re happy to present, participate in and conduct events for your audience to explore how we can keep the individual front and centre during any form of care experience.

Read our newsletter – it comes out via co-founder Rebecca Glover’s LinkedIn profile and on our newsletter page on Substack.

Follow our social media – for industry news and views, head to LinkedIn, for articles and discussions of interest check out our Facebook page, for visual stimulus and a focus on our blog’s pearls of wisdom, try Instagram.

Read and share our blog – we’re tackling all kinds of everyday concerns, topics, how to blogs and more across aged care, end-of-life and other care related topics for both industry professionals and the general public. You are welcome to use our content (with credit of course) to help educate your audience and workforce.

Advocate alongside us – nothing heartens us more than to see allies in the trenches use their privilege to create space for marginalised communities to talk about healthcare, aged care, mental health, disability, or end-of-life on their terms. We will do what we can to support you as you tackle ageism, ableism, racism, homophobia or exclusion in any form. And we will actively seek to help you challenge the myths surrounding health, mental health, aged care and end-of-life care in Australia.

Together, we can create a united (yet slightly rebellious) voice that highlights the diversity within the Australian care community. Join us and start adding your opinion and ideas today.

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