In the Media

Kelly Vincent – Vision Australia Interview on Young People in Nursing Homes

On 10th June 2015 Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent was interviewed on Vision Australia radio station to discuss the issue of young people with disability and chronic illness living in nursing homes. Here is the audio and transcript of that interview.

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MALE VOICE: On 1197 AM 5RPH and digital radio, it’s Question Time, A discussion with the decision makers.

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PRESENTER PAM GREEN: Time now to welcome to 5 RPH Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent. Kelly, I understand the issue of a man with muscular dystrophy being in a nursing home long before he expected to be has brought up the issue of young people in nursing homes again. What is going on here?

KELLY VINCENT: Well, this is a very sad issue where a man aged 55 is currently living in a nursing home setting with people up and 40 years older than him. And you can only imagine, Pam, the effect that would have on somebody’s emotional well-being; stimulation and potentially mental health. A very sad situation and unfortunately not a unique one, either. Data from Young People in Nursing Homes, the national peak body representing young people living in aged care, estimates that there could be as many as 470 South Australians living in an aged care settings way before their time.

PAM GREEN: Just how many younger South Australians with disability and chronic illness find themselves living in nursing homes?

KELLY VINCENT: The data from Young People in Nursing Homes suggests that as many as 470 people under the age of 65. And it does vary a bit within each age group. But as many as 470 young people living in aged care is what is estimated by the most recent data available from Young People in Nursing Homes. And 420 of them are around the age group of 55 – 40 to 55. So the younger you are the sadder this is, of course. I hate to think what it would be like to be a young person in your 20s living in this situation. But 55 is of course still way too young to be living with people in their 80s and 90s. And the emotional and social implications that that would have would be enormous.

PAM GREEN: Why does it matter where people with disabilities live? Being the devil’s advocate here, shouldn’t they just be grateful to have a roof over their heads?

KELLY VINCENT: I’m certainly not advocating that these people should just be homeless instead, but what we need our government to do is have a conversation with South Australians as a community about where we want our taxes to go. Do we want to put any old roof over somebody’s head? Do we want to take the “near enough is good enough” approach to governing? Or do we actually want to see our taxes going toward services and supports which gives people the support they need to live the lives of their choosing? I think about what makes a good home, and if the ability to come and go as you please, to live with the people of your choosing, people of your own age group, and to engage in activities that are appropriate for you and meaningful to you. And as a young person that is obviously not going to occur in a nursing home. So what we need the government to do is have an honest discussion about where we want our taxpayer dollars to go. This is only going to get more and more important with the National Disability Insurance Scheme incoming. Especially with the ageing population. It’s only going to get more important that we have a variety of housing options available, particularly that are disability accessible given our ageing population, and given that the government is talking about the importance of ageing in place – being able to stay in one place, as you grow older and have all the sentimental and emotional benefits that come with that.

PAM GREEN: Kelly, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today.

KELLY VINCENT: That’s a pleasure, Pam. Thank you.

PAM GREEN: Dignity for Disability MLC, Kelly Vincent.

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MALE VOICE: Be listening at the same time next week for Question Time, a discussion with the decision makers on 1197 AM RPH and digital radio.