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Best aged care practice informed by expert knowledge

Vision, values, ethics and financial competence
Our virus challenge is providing us with insights into the depth of our broken systems. Particularly aged care. We know it is chronically underfunded and relies on low-paid and casual staff. And it is revealing to examine the governance structures of some aged-care boards: what is their competence and experience in healthcare?

The focus by recent federal governments on small government means some for-profit aged-care boards are focused on just that – profit. But there are also some examples of exemplary aged-care leadership and delivery: facilities that have vision, values, ethics and financial competence. I know of several such centres.

Let us applaud and learn from them, fund community and residential aged care appropriately, and implement a progressive taxation system that ensures the services our communities deserve are delivered.
Maria Bohan, Newtown

Turmoil is not attributable to a virus
Neil Wilkinson (Letters, 27/7) has good insight. The shocking turmoil in nursing homes amid the pandemic is not because of the virus. It is because of the inadequate and shameful situation that has been allowed to continue for too long. The virus has magnified it. Before the Liberal governments restructuring and deregulation, these places were not called ‘‘facilities’’ and were not staffed by ‘‘carers’’. They were homes and were staffed by nurses.

I left when the carer system was ‘‘installed’’ along with tub-chairs and 12-hour continence pads. It’s a nurse who can pick if someone is sick, is not 100 per cent, has a temperature or has an infection. We cannot expect carers and people working four-hour casual shifts to be able to do that.
If Australia cannot afford nursing homes, then get rid of them. Find something that works but is not part of another corporate industry.
Meredith James, Glenhuntly

THE FORUM

The exercise balance
Julie Szego’s article (‘‘Joggers should wear masks, too’’, 27/7) follows some pointed letters to the editor suggesting that people engaging in vigorous exercise outside their home should be required to wear masks. We write in support of the government’s current policy that engaging in strenuous exercise is a valid reason for not having to wear a mask.

While we agree that walking briskly can be very good for our health, it does not provide the aerobic challenge necessary for active people to maintain fitness. And just to be clear, it is not feasible to engage in strenuous physical exercise while wearing a mask.

All good policy recognises the need to balance objectives. In this case the tiny risk of the rate of COVID-19 transmission being increased by the presence of maskless joggers needs to be balanced against the significant and enduring detrimental effect on the physical and mental health of a large number of people that would occur if they were prevented from exercising. We applaud the government for getting this balance right.
Professor Peter Taylor, Professor Tony Guttmann, Dr Robert Maillardet, Dr Paul Keeler, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

Submit to peer review
Your correspondent Martin Newington (Letters, 28/7) should be aware that the correct manner to challenge the ‘‘orthodoxies of climate change’’ is to submit a peer-reviewed scientific paper outlining the errors in current research. You don’t write a book chock full of emotionally laden statements of questionable accuracy.
Graeme Finn, St Peters NSW

Fears for the future
As an engineer I gasped at Josh Frydenberg’s consistent blame of renewables for the South Australian power blackout when minister for environment and energy. He showed no grasp of the problem and remained unable to learn from all subsequent expert reports. It now appears his understanding of political history, biography and economics is as lacking as his engineering. His drivers appear to be the protection of unsustainable industries and the transfer of wealth by further distortion of our tax and funding systems.

We need basic food, housing and health security for all. We do not need more luxury vehicles, mansions and negatively geared properties that will result from tax reductions. I fear for our children’s futures if we do not tackle the issue of growing inequity.
John Poppins, Mount Waverley

Vulnerability everywhere
Danny Cole (Letters, 28/7) advocates for vulnerable people with diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure to be kept in isolation while ‘‘the rest of us’’ carry on as usual. According to Institute of Health and Welfare figures, 4.9 per cent of Australians have diabetes, 31.3 per cent are obese and 34 per cent have high blood pressure. Vulnerable Australians are not the tiny minority Mr Cole presumes. Even disregarding the moral issue with locking away the vulnerable indefinitely while ‘‘the rest of us’’ go back to normal, on a practical level it simply wouldn’t be possible.
Mitchell Edgeworth, St Kilda

Limit to protest rights
The right to protest in a free society is a fundamental right. But there are clear limits. When that activity unreasonably deprives others of their civil rights and liberties, that limit has been reached.
Michael J. Gamble, Belmont

Power plays
Peter Hartcher is spot on in his cogent analysis of Australia’s relationship with China and the US (‘‘Bow to neither Xi nor Trump’’, 28/7). Establishing harmonious relationships with both countries is clearly difficult, but hopefully not impossible. It definitely precludes jumping on the Trump election bandwagon, and taking part in war exercises in the South China Sea. Surely, our only hope of reining in Chinese aggression is, as Hartcher points out, tightening security measures, and re-examining our trade reliance on China. The harsh reality is that Australia cannot afford to be at war with any country, and certainly not China which has a huge reserve of manpower and arms.
Helen Scheller, Benalla

No need to pick a side
Mike Pompeo’s statement that countries should pick a side in the increasing tensions with China sounds much like George Bush’s declaration – you are either with us or against us. It should not be a binary choice. Donald Trump is so wanting to distract his countrymen from his coronavirus ineptitude that he is likely to do anything that plays to his constituency. Australia needs to be careful not to be drawn into supporting his belligerence in the lead-up to the US election in November.
Alan Inchley, Frankston

Climate action needed
Benjamin Hines’ thoughtful letter (26/7) highlighted the need for action on global warming. However the mounting concern about the effect COVID-19 is having on the economy is overriding every other issue politically, including the ongoing impact of our unprecedented bushfires of last summer which escalated species extinctions. Yes, lives are at stake with COVID-19, but as 2010-19 was the hottest decade on record, we need to give equal attention to global warming which will affect all life on Earth. Time is short – with the Great Barrier Reef close to ecological extinction, water levels rising as arctic ice melts, and extreme weather events reported around the world.
Bobbie Holmes, Hawthorn

Only isolate the vulnerable
What is the purpose of closing the economy, suppressing the virus and then opening up the borders and letting the virus back in? We then go through the cycle of suppression and closing borders again. Don’t our politicians see that this is a no-win scenario?

Australia cannot stay isolated from the rest of the world. It is inevitable that the virus will spread into the community. Are we prepared to stop and start the economy every time there is an outbreak? The danger is if we open the economy the risk is the hospital sector will be overwhelmed. This I believe can be managed. We know that young people who are infected have an excellent chance of recovery. So let us isolate only the vulnerable. And keep growing the hospital sector. Then the rest of the economy can work without fear of disruption that another lockdown will cause.
Michael Travica, Bungendore, NSW

Targeted fines
We have all seen the large number of positive cases reported over recent weeks in Melbourne. Our politicians have done well with their messaging and the efforts of Victoria Police and ADF personnel have been exemplary in enforcing the current regime.

However, I wonder whether we may be missing a vital link as the number of total active cases continues to rise? Is there a sufficient penalty to dissuade those people who have tested positive from venturing out to do a bit of ‘‘last-minute’’ shopping even with their masks attached?
What is the fine for someone who has tested positive being caught away from home during their 14-day isolation period? If such a fine exists, then the messaging from politicians needs to pick up on this. If no such appropriate fine exists for breaking curfew while COVID-19 positive, then a substantial fine needs to be established and publicised widely.
Russell Cooper, Point Lonsdale

Regions out in the cold
We all understand what the damage to regional tourism from restrictions in Victoria is. With the major customer base locked down in Melbourne and no interstate or international tourism the outlook is impossible.

When the recent lockdown was announced, small businesses in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire were given assistance of a $5000 one-off payment. Many of these businesses are open and trading well. Regional tourism operators were left behind, able to open but unable to sell anything. No assistance for them. Regional tourist operators are being smashed, all the costs of business but almost zero revenue. If this continues for four more weeks the end of the story is obvious, many businesses will fold. Politicians keep talking about tourism as an obvious case – but keep ignoring their plight as if it will somehow work itself out. Action from Minister for the Co-ordination of Jobs, Precincts and Regions: COVID-19 Martin Pakula is needed now.
Stephen Luke, Kyabram

Inquiry push premature
The Victorian branch of the Australian Medical Association has called for a royal commission into Victoria’s response to the coronavirus pandemic (The Age, 28/7). This is both unhelpful and entirely premature and overly politicises a public health crisis within which their members play a lead and pivotal role. The last thing we need at the moment is the Premier, and particularly, the Chief Health Officer, second guessing themselves under the shadow of another future inquiry.
Whatever your politics, Daniel Andrews and Brett Sutton have saddled up day after day with obvious genuine intentions and actions. Doctors, please be more constructive in these difficult times.
Peter Jurkovsky, Heidelberg

All about the individual
Thatcher once famously said ‘‘there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.’’ Is this the view of the federal Treasurer? How would such a view stand up in our present crisis or during bushfires?
Does he propose that the individual has no obligation to society and that we don’t need to pull together as a nation?
David Robertson, Wheatsheaf

AND ANOTHER THING …

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Coronavirus
Danny Cole (Letters, 28/7), we thought a lot of those vulnerable people were protected in aged care homes. What is your plan so the rest of us can get on with normal life?
Susan Mahar, Fitzroy North

As a loyal and proud Victorian working overseas I am ashamed and embarrassed witnessing the appalling performance of the Andrews government’s COVID-19 fight.
Ross Nielsen, Auckland, NZ

We need to be aware of the enormous toll this is taking on Daniel Andrews. Do all those recalcitrant mask wearers care about anyone but themselves?
Barry O’Neill, Menzies Creek

It may well be difficult to interact with a person wearing a face mask Jeremy C. Browne (Letters, 28/7) however it is impossible to interact with a person who is dead.
Malcolm I. Fraser, Oakleigh South

Would the anti-mask people please forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities.
Geoff Schmidt, Fitzroy North

Reaganomics
The left revile Thatcher and Reagan because they set us on the path to this nastier, meaner and shallower world.
Steve Melzer, Hughesdale

Clever Josh. Dangle two juicy red herrings – let’s call them Maggie and Ronny – before a COVID-19-weary crowd, and while they are distracted, plan a return to harsh neo-liberalism.
Greg Curtin, Blackburn South

Cancelled out
Could we please cancel the usage of the latest go-to trigger phrase. ‘‘Cancel Culture’’.
Graeme Henchel, Yarra Glen

Football fever
AFL matches for the next 20 nights. A great time to be in lockdown!
Phil Lipshut, Elsternwick

Finally
Tax cuts stimulate spending for those that can spend. Tax increases create jobs from government spending and allow newly employed people to spend. Which do you want?
Chris Waters, Ormond

To submit a letter to The Age, email letters@theage.com.au. Please include your home address and telephone number.

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