Aged care homes have struggled with inadequate funding for staff numbers and training prior to COVID-19. Now, with infection control, costs have blown out. Many beds are empty in many facilities as no one intends to come into an aged care home. The co-ordination between state and federal governments, GPs and aged care is fragmented since the scrapping of the advisory panels on aged care. Funding to the right people for the best outcomes is needed desperately – now.
Dr Terence Ahern, Kew
One day, we will all be ‘older people’ too
The 30th anniversary of the UN International Day of Older Persons was October 1. Perhaps more than any other year, we need to take a moment to think about ageing and the role of older people in society. The devastation of COVID-19 on older people in residential aged care, the cost of keeping elderly people safe versus the cost for future generations, the impact of restrictions on everyone.
Children separated from their grandparents, older people separated from their families. We cannot keep older people locked away for ever, regardless of whether they live in aged care or in their own homes. We need to ask what value we place on older people and how much are we prepared to pay for their care and safety because, fingers crossed, we will be one of them.
Cathy Healion, Seaford
Monitoring the quality of aged care homes
The many hundreds of tragic deaths from coronavirus in aged care is a wake-up call that cannot be ignored by governments, state and federal. Devastating shortcomings in policy, resourcing, supervision and regulation have been revealed.
As regards regulation, Victoria’s model of trained, voluntary, community visitors to accommodation for those with a disability – reporting to the Public Advocate and Parliament – is worth reflection. Visiting unannounced and without warning is a model of efficient and economical supervision and regulation with benefits to all concerned. A similar program should be adopted for aged care homes.
John Miller, Toorak
A call for action not more ‘big words’
Now that the royal commission has made its six recommendations, it did not take long for Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck to say that all six will be fulfilled. As usual, it is a case of acting after the horse has bolted.
However, the problems with aged care have not just happened – they have been going on for years and it is only because of the pandemic that they have come to the fore. If those multi-millionaire owners had been looked at years ago, and had the book thrown at them, it might have helped to ease the suffering of our older citizens through this pandemic. But no, the owners and their shareholders were allowed to go on their merry way, cutting staff, cutting hours and cutting god knows what else.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government had committed $1.6 billion in additional resources to aged care since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. As usual, big words and big numbers. But don’t hold your breath.
Dermot Mcintosh, Bacchus Marsh
It’s time the residents’ needs came before profits
We could have 100 royal commissions into aged care, all with damning findings, but nothing will change while profit comes before people.
Annie Wilson, Inverloch
Having perused the interim recommendations of the royal commission, my wife (a retired registered nurse) and I are very disappointed at the lack of specific recommendations regarding levels of nursing care in aged care facilities.
Rather than providing ‘‘adequate’’ levels of such care, there should be mandatory and clearly defined levels of qualified nursing staff to patient ratios. This also requires mandatory reporting and external reviews to ensure these are met. If these conditions had been in place, many of the problems now faced by aged care as a result of the COVID-19 virus may have been avoided or at least diluted.
Rob Evans and Anne Clements, Glen Iris
The truth, at long last
Donald Trump’s confirmation that he has COVID-19 is notable for two reasons: it is his first truthful tweet in four years, and it gives hope to the free world in a time of great despair.
Ian Greenshields, Malvern East
Donald Trump promoted and took the drug hydroxychloroquine in a bid to prevent contracting COVID-19 . That worked out well.
Geoff Allen, Mount Eliza
Importance of protection
Donald Trump played down the pandemic and now he and his wife, Melania, have tested positive for coronavirus.Why didn’t he wear a mask?
Susan Munday, Bentleigh East
Flirting with danger
The disgraceful performance of Donald Trump in the first debate, including not denouncing white supremacists may well turn conservatives against him, as Todd Jorgensen hopes (Letters, 2/10). Sadly, however, because voting in the United States is not compulsory, they are more likely to abstain from voting than to cast their ballot for Joe Biden. The whole world will be an even more dangerous place as a result.
Juliet Flesch, Kew
Listen to the people
Often articles about the US presidential election debate quote observers, politicians and journalists. There are rarely comments from the American voters. This is exactly the same mistake that was made during the 2016 election. Relying on the opinions of the political elite and not asking real people. I fear history may be about to repeat itself.
Greg Walsh, Black Rock
Bullying equals strength
The concern is not Donald Trump’s behaviour: that was to be expected. The concern is that in the eyes of many American voters, bullying is equated with leadership. It wins votes. The real concern is that this pandemic endangers world peace and prosperity.
David Hay, Greensborough
Controlling The Donald
The suggestion to turn off the microphones of Donald Trump and Joe Biden if they break the rules by failing to respect the time limits in future debates (World, 2/10) is a great idea.
Nicholas Howes’ idea to put both candidates in sound-proof boxes (Letters, 2/10) is even better. I would add a further suggestion that a latch be placed on the outside of Trump’s box – or that at the very least, he be tethered to his lectern to prevent him from circling the stage and creeping around as he did when Hillary Clinton was his debating opponent at the last election.
Liz Jovanovic, Moonee Ponds
As the world turns…
It is the ultimate irony that Britain has rejected offshore detention for asylum seekers (World, 2/10). That was the system it used to establish Australia which, in turn, has refined the process to become its undisputed world leader.
Colin Mockett, Geelong
More pressure on ABC
The ABC is the national emergency broadcaster, if not in its charter then at least in the minds of the public who turn to it for accurate information in emergencies, especially those in regional areas. Yet its staff was asked to vote against a pay freeze to save $5million to go to emergency broadcasting (The Age, 1/9). Budget cuts and funding freezes have stripped the ABC of millions of dollars in real terms and again brought about hundreds of lost jobs and programs. Are its staff now expected to pass the hat to fund its essential services?
Lisa Frazer, Templestowe
Supporting our students
I totally agree with Senator Jacqui Lambie in her opposition to the proposed funding changes in higher education (The Age, 1/10). Of most concern is the cutting of access to government-subsidised places and HELP loans to students who fail 50per cent of their first-year subjects. This will disadvantage students who are the first in their family to attend university and those from low socio-economic communities.
I have worked in the higher education sector and was often delighted to witness less successful first-year students who ‘‘tried again’’, maybe in a different course and who, with supports in place, flourished both personally and academically. Think again, Coalition government.
Lesley Osenieks, Birregurra
A blending of the two
As we face the realities of climate change and the pandemic, it must be acknowledged that training in the arts is just as important as the sciences. At the end of last year in Hamer Hall, there was a remarkable coming together of the two.
While the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra played, extraordinary photographs of the limits of space and black holes were projected onto a screen behind the musicians. Professor Brian Cox, from the University of Manchester’s school of physics and astronomy, spoke about these astounding phenomena. Summing up the significance of the contribution of the arts to our thinking, he said, ‘‘You will not find meaning at the end of a telescope’’.
Jennifer Bryce, Elwood
Please, cry me a river
Universities crying poor is like the boy who cried wolf. Just check out their financial reserves and annual surpluses.
Andrew McFarland, Templestowe
Getting back to nature
Doesn’t the popularity of spending time in grassy, treed and safe open spaces tell you that town planners must build and restore green spaces into all suburbs? With increasing high and medium-density housing, it is essential for our mental and physical well-being.
Chris Cloak, Beaumaris
Let us golfers play
There have been suggestions golf is a sport not accessible to all. I disagree. If someone had suggested in my earlier life that I would take it up, I would have laughed. I now play at least three times a week and I even joined our pennant team.
Our club is made up of mostly retired Australians who have discovered a game that gives them great pleasure and purpose. It is good for your body and soul, and fills your heart with joy just being on the course (as walkers are discovering).
But we pay for the privilege. In retirement, this is the one activity that will be part of our budget for as long as possible. We golfers have been incredibly patient in these COVID-19 times but the inability to play is taking its toll on our health. Please, open up the courses once more to keep us safe and well.
Trish Roath, Healesville
Help, I need a roadmap
I am really concerned at the number of new roadmaps being proposed. Why do we need them? Have many towns and cities shifted? Can I still rely on my RACV maps in my car? Has the coronavirus altered everything? I want to travel in regional Victoria soon but with all these new roadmaps. I hope I can still find my way around.
Andrew Walker, Wangaratta
More recipes, please
Thank you, Adam Liam. Your green vegetable sauce (Good Living, 30/9) was a hit with the fussy teenage eaters in our house. I served it as a ‘‘pesto’’ substitute with pasta and everyone loved it. They even had seconds. A new staple recipe for our household. Yum.
Anita Siassios, Preston
AND ANOTHER THING
Scott loves roadmaps. Let’s see one for aged care.
Lindsay Donahoo, Wattle Glen
Did I miss O’Brien’s condemnation of the federal government’s numerous failings in aged care?
Erica Grebler, Caulfield North
Every state needs a Jacqui Lambie.
Andrea Plantinga, Point Lonsdale
Re McCormack’s ‘‘love’’ comment. Is he host of The Farmer Wants a Wife?
Paul Wells, Bendigo
The US has 331 million people. Are these two clowns the best they can do?
Lynne Vero, Ascot Vale
How can this farcical event be called a ‘‘debate’’? How can Americans accept it?
Stan Marks, Caulfield
The US, under Trump, can’t run an election. What hope does it have if he gets four more years?
Ron Reynolds, Templestowe
Make America great again”? Make Americans see sense again.
Margaret Skeen, Point Lonsdale
‘‘Don’t ever use the word ‘smart’ with me,’’ Trump told Biden. Mr President, I honestly couldn’t.
Merv Collins, Fitzroy North
Hopefully the world won’t have to endure too many more temper tantrums from that big baby bully.
Terry Kelly, Fitzroy North
‘‘Trump must put democracy first’’ (Editorial, 1/10). Unlikely. Trump puts Trump first.
Lance Cranage, Mount Waverley
I’m surprised that so many people are surprised Trump behaved like Trump in the debate.
Gordon Moss, Brookfield
We’ve come a long way when the SA government allows ‘‘vertical consumption of alcohol’’.
Dennis Richards, Cockatoo
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Susan Ryan, Helen Reddy. Donald Trump. Young women, take note.
Tania Hardy-Smith, Mitcham
The Roos are trying to get Roos, just when we all thought he’d said hooRoo.
James May, Fairfield