RedUSE

Residential aged care facilities in Australia have long faced criticism – inadequate medical supervision, insufficient numbers of nursing and care staff, poorly trained and lowly paid workers… no one talks of an easy fix, but few argue that changes aren’t needed.  

Although the number of elderly residents exceeds 200,000 (in 2672 ‘nursing homes’, as they were once called) the volume of concerns made public seemed relatively low… until recently when mounting complaints and media coverage prompted the Federal Government to call a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Hearings are well under way, as most Australians would know, and often harrowing evidence is being tendered. The Royal Commissioners are required to provide an interim report by 31 October this year, and a final report by 30 April 2020. 

UOW students

As I write it has been an exciting week, with new senior medical students commencing their year-long placement in various locations across the North Coast. The University of Wollongong (UOW), in collaboration with the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast (UCRH), has three regional training hubs, Murwillumbah, Lismore and Grafton. Each year, these hubs offer 20 extended clinical training opportunities that are highly contended amongst the University’s medical students.

“The word amongst my peers and classmates who  have completed placement on the North Coast is that the educational opportunities are excellent. Staff are welcoming and so willing to teach, the clinical experiences so diverse,” said current UOW medical student Alexander Mills.

The North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) has announced it will receive $720,000 in federal funding for a new funding partnership with North Coast GP Training, which will be a range of local networking and education events.

Investment in building the skills and capacity of primary health care workers is a proven strategy to ensuring a healthy community, according to the PHN, the coordinating body an estimated 6,200 primary health care professionals working within its Tweed Heads to Port Macquarie footprint.

Veterinary surgeon Mike Fitzgerald

As someone who works all day with animals, as a Veterinarian, I am often reminded of W.C.Fields’ famous quote : “never work with children or animals”. It helps to trot this one out when my furry patient is not sticking to the script or has an entirely different agenda.

Last week I was reminded of the enormous value of animals, in particular the canine species, working with us humans, when I met Bruce the labradoodle who had been trained to work as an Assistance dog for a client who suffered from PTSD/Anxiety.

Bruce seemed like your normal happy, tail-wagging young dog during his checkup and immunisation. The only clue that he was different was the red harness his owner held, emblazoned with the words ASSISTANCE DOG.

Our cover this month is the painting “Love 2019” by local artist Katka Adams. Katka has explored the refugee experience in her recent exhibition “Coming Home”. She describes her inspiration and motivations below and on Page 15 editor, Robin Osborne details her journey of  escaping the Soviet crushing of the Prague Spring in 1968 and the start of a new life in Australia as “that Czech girl”.

Dislocation from one’s cultural roots is a common experience for many Australians from European, African and even Aboriginal backgrounds. For some art gives voice to their experience, for others it is the written word.