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I’m not a consumer, I’m a person!

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The new Aged Care Standards make for sober reading. The care of our frail, vulnerable elders is a serious responsibility – and sometimes we have failed badly. The new Standards set a high bar, and rightly so. Perhaps there should be daily readings from the Standards in our aged care organisations – much like the Rule of Benedict has been read in monastic communities since the sixth century! It too has a focus on care and community.

On second thoughts perhaps not. The Standards have a legislative and regulatory function, and the language used in the document reflects this. Sadly, in my view, the term most used to describe the people in our care is ‘consumer’. In one sense the motivation for selecting this term is admirable: the intention is to shift power from the provider to the receiver of care. The language of consumerism has long been used in the Australian health care system, and has been strongly defended, for example, in the mental health sector as language which, while imperfect, destigmatises and empowers those who use its services.

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Source:
Jane Foulcher, 2018, Australian Ageing Agenda (https://www.australianageingagenda.com.au/about/)

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