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Call for better community care for aged on World Day of the Sick

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) CEO Francis Sullivan has echoed the Pope's plea for today's World Day of the Sick for improved care of the sick and elderly who remain at home.

Speaking at the release of its paper for the World Day of the Sick, Mr Sullivan said: "The pressing needs of the elderly must be given a higher priority in both the organisation of the health system and in the development of appropriate, person-centred aged care support structures."

Pope John Paul II had said in his message for the Eleventh World Day of the Sick, to be celebrated today in Washington: "Proper attention must be given to the sick who remain at home, given that less and less time is actually being spent in hospital and the sick are often being entrusted to their own families."

CHA has released its issues paper - Community Care for Older People: Current Issues - to generate public debate in the lead up to the next Australian Health Care Agreements and federal budget round.

"At the present time the care of the elderly in the community and support for them in their homes is far from organised, comprehensive or sufficient," said Mr Sullivan. "There are a myriad of programs, but they lack a clear and robust framework."

He said negotiating assistance is a complex and often frustrating exercise.

"Families and carers are often left to muddle through and contend with multiple layers of bureaucracy and inappropriate waiting lists."

Mr Sullivan paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of families and carers.

"Good intentions can only go so far," he said. "This silent majority struggle to fill the gaps that Commonwealth and state aged care programs inevitably leave."

"CHA's paper raises these and other important policy issues. The responsibility to address them falls squarely at the table of health and aged care ministers in all jurisdictions. They must act quickly and decisively. The present renegotiation of the Australian Health Care Agreements presents the ideal time to demonstrate this leadership."

Catholic Health Australia

Catholic Health Australia | Community Care Services For Older Australians: Catholic Health Australia Issues Paper | World Day of the Sick | Liturgical resource
World Day of the Sick Official Website

11 Feb 2003