The Catholic Church and other religious organisations need to play a greater role in social service delivery for older citizens, according to one of America's leading aged care experts.
    Canberra-Goulburn Diocese's Catholic Voice newspaper reports that Dr Terry Tirrito, Associate Professor of Gerontology with the University of South Carolina, said there was a global need for churches to make up for shortfalls in government funding and service delivery in aged care.
    "What we have in all of our countries are shrinking Government involvement in social services," she said.
    "My perspective is that the churches are going to need to take back their original mission of helping people in the community and in particular helping older people."
    During her recent visit to Australia, Dr Tirrito was based at the Signadou campus of Australian Catholic University and spoke to a number of government representatives and other service providers about the challenge of aged care in the 21st century. "I've found that most of the residential care facilities in Australia are sponsored by religious organisations but more needs to be done."
    Dr Tirrito said individual churches, not just organisations such as the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Salvation Army, needed to provide social services to older members of their congregations.
    "I'd like to see each church having a carers support group and counselling services," she said. "The church needs to do more than simply providing recreational activities for older people and I think that was the case in earlier times." Dr Tirrito said the United States also had a long way to go when it came to aged care. "In the US there is very limited social service provision by religious organisations. The best models I've seen so far are in Korea and Japan.
    "Ageing is happening everywhere and in every country. The service implications for that is that governments need to prepare." "We need to decide whether we see older people as a burden or as a resource. Countries who see their older people as a resource will have an advantage."

30/03/99 11:39:51 / Catholic Voice


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