Melbourne is a multi-cultural city with a growing ageing population. One of the problems emerging is that there are very few culturally specific aged care facilities for people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
This lack of culturally appropriate care becomes even more dire when elderly people who have emigrated to Australia from a non-English speaking country get dementia and begin to lose the ability to speak English due to memory loss.
I have a client at the moment who is from Serbia, cannot speak English, has no relatives so has been appointed a guardian and has the State Trustees looking after his finances. He suffers from mild dementia. His guardian has appointed me, as a Placement Consultant, to find an appropriate aged care facility for this gentleman. The guardian has requested a culturally specific aged care facility, which I have found are few and far between and are often mixed with other nationalities that have a history of unrest with Serbia.
The government has a national ageing and aged care strategy for people from CALD backgrounds, which was released in December 2012. Part of this strategy included identifying CALD regions and providing consultation (through a third party provider) and documents with information on how to identify specific needs of a CALD ageing population, forming partnerships with organisations to deliver on these needs and how to set up and apply to become an aged care provider.
In my searches as a Placement Specialist, I find that, despite these efforts, there are still not many culturally specific aged care providers for most of the culturally diverse elderly Australians. Italians have the most options in Melbourne, with very few options for other ethnic backgrounds, including aboriginal. If an aged person speaks another language it seems that those seeking appropriate aged care for them have to enquire at each facility if they have staff that speak the particular language. A time consuming, needle in a haystack process, and if that staff member leaves the facility, what then? At a minimum there should be a government national database of CALD appropriate facilities that can be searched by nationality and Aged Care Facilities should have a stated policy of which ethnic backgrounds they cater to, which is visibly included in their promotions and to which they adhere long term.