Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Aged Care Crisis Is Growing 'We Need Aged Care, Not Retirement Villages'

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Aged Care Crisis Is Growing 'We Need Aged Care, Not Retirement Villages'

Article excerpt

Byline: Tegan Annett tegan.annett@gladstoneobserver.com.au

ANN Lethaus worries caring for her sick and elderly sister is killing her.

Since May 2015, the 63-year-old has been the full time carer for her sister Elke who suffers from an acquired brain injury.

Ann quit her job in childcare and sold the Burua home she shared with her husband Ray to care for Elke at her Heritage Retirement Village unit.

What Ann and Ray never expected was for Elke to be on a waiting list for a room at an aged care facility in Gladstone for more than two years.

The agonising wait has left Ann feeling stressed and sick, and worried about how much longer they can live like they are.

Feeling "failed" by the city's aged care industry, Ann said eventually she would need to consider leaving Gladstone with Elke to find aged care accommodation.

On top of her acquired brain injury - the result of a four-week coma - last year Elke suffered kidney failure and needs kidney dialysis every three weeks.

Now she is completely reliant on her sister.

"At this rate she will outlive me," Ann said.

"We're getting sick because we can't drink enough and we're stressed and we're frustrated.

"I love my sister but ... all of this starts to get to you after a while."

Despite the occasional calls from aged care facilities checking if Elke still needs a room, Ann said "there's no end in sight".

Plans underway to build an aged care facility at the former TAFE campus at Derby St have not eased her worries either.

The precinct, named So Glad, a shortened form of South Gladstone, was the Gladstone Regional Council's response to the gap in aged care facilities in Gladstone.

The Federal Government has allocated funding for 70 aged beds at the facility, which is expected to cost more than $28 million and is a collaborative project between the Gladstone Foundation, Mercy Health, CQU, Federal and State governments. …

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