Media perplexed because there’s no ‘get’ to be got

A Royal Commission met by an embarrassed silence

It’s not often I sympathise with an investigative reporter for the ABC but Anne Connolly has a point. With only rare exceptions, when the national broadcaster runs a set-piece ‘investigation’ the objective is to bring down somebody or something it ideologically dislikes. When it scrutinises somebody or something on the left, it does so from the left. The worst example of a doctrinal ‘get’ of the first kind was the malicious campaign against George Pell; the most absurd (this year) was Four Corners’ giddy three-part mini-series on Donald Trump’s links to Russia (we already knew there were none). When Who Cares? reporter Connolly yesterday lamented the paltry media coverage of the royal commission into aged care, however, I had to agree. That graph doesn’t lie. Unfortunately, her explanation for the indifference is flawed, proving that she too – like the media and politicians she criticises – is missing the real story. Here’s the thing: it’s the missing of the real story that is the story. Say what you like about the media but they know what sells. Stated plainly: we don’t care about elderly people as a class. That’s why so many of them are in “homes” in the first place. There’s your lede. This is lost on Connolly whose sincerity I don’t doubt. She argues that “without a knowledgeable media asking questions and putting pressure on the aged care ‘industry’ and Government, there is a great risk that the system will fail our elderly — and us — again.” There’s that Dalrymple knife again: “the system.”

The government is not ‘us’

What’s missing from the aged care conversation, then, is moral coherence – the identification of cause and culpability. Connolly decries the fact that the banking royal commission generated three times more media interest. But the media – especially the ABC – had an easy goodies-baddies storyline for banks: they were said to be egregiously misappropriating their customers’ money. What’s more, a Liberal government was conjointly to blame. For journalists, that combination was as straightforward and enticing as it gets. By contrast, there aren’t enough media consumers in aged care facilities to really matter, the crisis being revealed by the royal commission transcends party culpability and the broader population isn’t personally affected. With no rightist villain in the frame the media is floundering. Nobody wants to talk about family responsibility to elderly loved ones, the hypocrisy of lionising “blended families” – as long as no old people are in the blend – or the fatal damage done to the extended family by have-it-all feminism. Unwilling to acknowledge the cost of the cultural shifts they championed, commentators like Ross Gittens have nothing to offer except hackneyed banalities about “smaller government.” Whatever its size, government isn’t to blame. We are. There is therefore no budgetary fix. A regulatory clamp-down will only reduce the number of headline travesties. The deeper crisis – of misery and ghettoisation – will continue until we figure out a way to love people now living to average ages without any precedent in history. We’re talking about an awakening, not a news cycle.

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39 Responses to Media perplexed because there’s no ‘get’ to be got

  1. Jock

    Totally agree. My Mother in law lives with us and our family would be lost without her. She is 79 and is going nowhere.

    It should be a stipulation/requirement when an older member of a family is put in a home. The family should sign an enforceable undertaking to visit. That way they can see what is going on.

    As to the RC. Nothing new came out. The stories from the NHS and aged care in the UK and the EU are much the same and have been for over 20 years. I saw one journo crapping on about training and career paths etc. Lets be blunt, looking after the aged is not a job you go into if you want to become CEO. Its a mix of waiter, cleaner and nurse. Frankly I wouldnt do it. But for others it provides 40 hours of work on a reasonable pay and you are not on the dole. We just need to make sure they dont abuse their patients.

  2. calli

    That’s because those trying earnestly for a “gotcha” will only get themselves if they go down the morality/responsibility path.

    They, too, have elderly rellies in nursing homes.

    How could they do their jobs otherwise?

  3. Ceres

    It’s a sad indictment in so many areas of our society, that unless you are personally affected, you don’t care. Unfortunately that extends to ones own parents with the shortsightedness, that one day not so far away, you too, will walk in their shoes. They can’t extrapolate to that day when they might experience appalling aged care.. Kiddie Journalists are no exception.
    One of my friends who is in her late 70’s laments the fact that her child seems only waiting for her to die, for the inheritance. This seems to not be uncommon.

  4. yarpos

    generally nobody cares that much about the elderly and just wants them to dissappear

    only a minority of the elderly ever make it to a nursing home anyway

    lack of caring isnt a big surprise, suck is Australia 2019

  5. stackja

    Funding aged care properly is going to be families who can afford and government for those that can’t.
    Foreign aid is a luxury that Australia can no longer afford.

  6. pete m

    The solution is home care and help for families caring for elderly in homes.

    Eg simple tax deduction if you have a pensioner parent living with you, plus support services.

    As for a stick , what about limiting inheritances if family put a parent in a nursing home, excluding severe health issue such as dementia?

    We need to find ways to encourage families keeping families together.

  7. Squirrel

    Some of the relative lack of media interest could be put down to denial (of various sorts) on their part, and on the part of their audiences.

    A case could also be made, up to a point, about Royal Commission fatigue – but I’m sure the Royal Commission Into Public Broadcasting will get blanket coverage………

  8. calli

    My great privilege will be to care for either or both of my parents when the time comes.

    I learned by example. My mother cared for my grandmother (her mother in law). And it was hard, and thankless, because uncaring family are full of guilt and anger because they don’t want to do it. But it taught me what to expect, and how to plan for the inevitable.

    I hope that my example will rub off on my own children. But you never, ever know.

  9. stackja

    Ceres – The ‘inheritance’ could fund proper aged care. The elderly who earned it, should put something aside for their aged care. Those expecting something should be earning and making their own way.

  10. Bruce of Newcastle

    That graph doesn’t lie.

    Bank bashing is great sport. The favourite class enemy!
    A better comparison would be to coverage of the TURC, which the ABC was curiously uninterested in.

  11. Bruce of Newcastle

    Nobody wants to talk about family responsibility to elderly loved ones

    CL – I think you are arguing colour with blind people. The commandment is for Christians and J-ws.

    Consider that in present society it is acceptable for parents to kill their child at a whim, for convenience, or because they want to go on holiday or because they want to be able to buy the next iPhone. Abortion is nothing consequential to the Left.

    In such a society if parents don’t value children, is it any surprise that children no longer value parents?

  12. Barry

    I think it all comes down to the fact that “you can’t pay people to care”.

    If you put an elderly relative (or even yourself) into a situation where the obligation to care is derived from monetary payment, you will find that “care” is not what you get.

    You get people following procedures and running around looking busy.

    “Care” can’t be measured, so it won’t be done.

    A Royal Commission won’t change that fact.

  13. candy

    Very nicely expressed, C.L. There’s many a lonely person in nursing homes who see a family member only once a year at Christmas.
    Dumped there, and only the staff to care how their health is, and if they are getting by ok.

  14. Bad Samaritan

    Huh? Old codgers kept barely alive until way past their use-by date…for what reason? To what end?

    There is nothing more annoying than infirm, feeble, disabled oldsters who do nought but whinge whinge whinge. Who could possibly put up with dozens of them gathered in one place for years on end?

    Now, of course a few people could grit their teeth and suffer their own nan or grand-nan, but how many of you moralizing virtue-signalling Cats would put up with some total stranger and their demented antics?

    FFS, The best thing is euthanasia. That is it.

  15. Roger

    Stated plainly: we don’t care about elderly people as a class. That’s why so many of them are in “homes” in the first place.

    Well, not exactly.

    There was a time -and I’m old enough to remember it – when families looked after their elderly at home.

    Then politicians – Liberal and Labour both – decided that Australia should be a society where mum as well as dad was roped into the labour market/tax base.

    The children as well as the elderly were to be sacrificed on the altar of economic expansion.

    Not to worry, the government was on hand to offer financial subsidies for care of the very young and very old, garnered from the increased tax base.

    And nobody remembers voting for this social revolution, because they didn’t.

  16. Dr Fred Lenin

    There was a good Samaritan so I suppose there had to be a bad one ,hope he takes his own advice if he gets old ,with his attitude I doubt anyone would put up with him .
    We all know some oldies are bloody nuisances ,but nuisances come in all ages , we just dont talk about it ,its called politeness , a very old fashioned moral thing .

  17. Helen

    Oh I have such trouble remembering things, she said. You dont have to remember Mum, just remember what the weather was on your wedding day.It rained early, but the sunshine came out later. In her wedding photo she said she was as stiff as a board – so terrified she could only grimace, but even doing that she is beautiful.

    She is old – 87, and frail, very bad arthitis and has outlived many physical challenges that would have seen others in. She has a will to live that is so strong, I dread the idea of a nursing home, and just hope that she never needs one, she will just drop into the eternal sleep in her favourite chair by the door where she looks out onto the ranges and her birds.

    Three months we have just had to gether and I treasure the time. Don’t go Mum, we havent talked nearly enough yet.

    I do what I can to help make life easier for her. I try to make her laugh every time we talk. But she is far away and I am here. And there are siblings who view things with suspicion. She wont have in home help, being fiercely independent. Some times we just have to do the best we can with what little we have.

  18. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Better and more creative home care systems need to be developed in association with families and voluntary groups. Families have a place in the caring for aged people living in their own home and thus apart from their families. Shared rosters of familial responsibility should be encouraged, discussed and implemented. Technologies can help – access codes on doors, alarm buttons close to hand etc. Preparation of decent frozen food paks is also helpful.

    Bringing older people living at home together in various social activities would improve the lives of many of them. People don’t stop making new friends because they are older. Sociality is the stuff of human life, and is so often forgotten or seen as secondary to more ‘physical’ care needs. As an example, options could be offered more – an option to have bedsheets changed every fortnight instead of every week in a package could mean more money would then be available for sociality systems. Transport is often the issue; funds could be put far more into that. Older people can support each other too, once they get to know who is living locally and what their needs may be. Establishing networks is quite possible, it just takes creative thinking about activities and interests.

    My mother stayed in her own home until her final two months of life. She died aged ninety, in hospital with a final illness. When in her own home she nurtured a small group of friends with whom she regularly went out for meals and activities and they all did small things to help each other, knew who was feeling down and when, and worked to keep up each others morale, often via telephone daily (which we as family also did). Some loss of vision and hearing occurred in most of this group, but they never lost heart because they had each other. I’ve seen this happen often with older people; care is about opportunity to socialize. You can’t buy the care of friends, only a substitute for it. Men’s sheds too can be valuable; I’ve seen the elderly husband of a friend thrive beyond all expectations when he joined his men’s shed group.

    When the time comes for nursing homes, friendship groups can still operate and should be nurtured, and they can also draw in kin to widen the networks of contact and belonging. If old people cannot ‘belong’ to their families as before, and very often they can’t at least in a live-in sense, then other ways of belonging will be the way forward.

  19. stackja

    I know of a retirement village that provides a great environment for the elderly who cannot live without support. Relatives seem happy with the care provided.

  20. stackja

    Bad Sam – Why not just start killing patients sooner? Why wait until they get older. Free up hospitals? Once you start the killing no one will be safe.

  21. candy

    When the time comes for nursing homes,

    It does happen and every situation is different. My view is that what harm is there, what big sacrifice is to visit an aged relative once a week not just for 15 minutes looking at the phone and being bored, but talking over things, over old memories and just simply watching TV, just to hold hands, a gentle walk. A few hours out of a healthy person’s week is nothing to do that. It’s not forever.

  22. Elizur Right

    There is one common denominator in the fraudulent dishonest bank / insurance company behaviour, the mistreatment of the elderly, the heavy handedness of Centerlink / ATO, and that is people. In each of these interactions it comes down to people who have been the agents. Heaven forbid that euthanasia is given to them as one of their services.

  23. Tintarella di Luna

    Three months we have just had together and I treasure the time. Don’t go Mum, we havent talked nearly enough yet.

    That is lovely, you are lucky to have time to talk and have your questions answered. Long may that be the case.

  24. Tintarella di Luna

    In each of these interactions it comes down to people who have been the agents. Heaven forbid that euthanasia is given to them as one of their services.

    Maggie Thatcher was absolutely right:

    “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.” – in an interview in Women’s Own in 1987

  25. Truth n Justice

    Euthanasia laws will fix all this!

  26. twostix

    Coincidentally we’re having a panic over aged care now that boomers are staring down the barrel of aged care.

    They didn’t give a shit when they were dumping their parents in there as cheap and meanly as possible.

  27. Russell

    Hang on, didn’t Little Gretta tell us we only have another 12 years till climate catastrophe? MSM can’t be seen to back her story AND then worry about oldies that are unlikely to last that long. After all, these oldies have had a fair innings compared to youngins who are gunna be wiped out in their prime (how dare you). No story here … move on.

  28. John A

    What’s missing from the aged care conversation, then, is moral coherence – the identification of cause and culpability.

    Moral coherence is missing, period!

    That’s one of the consequences of eliminating “ethics” from public life – aka don’t mix religion and politics or, more blatantly, whatever it takes.

  29. Adelagado

    My mother, at 96, is in the very late stages of aged care. For 5 years my family has ensured she gets at least 1 or 2 visitors every single day. I’m sure the care she gets from staff is much better because they can see she has not been abandoned by her family. I bet the aged care homes that have the worst records are also the ones with the residents who have the fewest visitors.

  30. Old Lefty

    The phenomenon CL so rightly diagnoses is related to the push for euthanasia – which is all about putting granny not out of her, but out of our misery.

  31. Bad Samaritan

    Adelagado (10.53pm) and if some medical semi-breakthrough keeps her going until 106, with the profession still finding new ways to keep her soldiering on? I’ve been through this. It’s a really draining experience for all concerned. As the Nobel Prize Winner wrote so long ago (55 years?)….

    “As some warn victory, some downfall
    Private reasons, great or small
    Can be seen in the eyes of those that call
    To make all that should be killed to crawl

    While others say don’t hate nothing at all
    Except hatred”

    For any Cats claiming the high moral ground well you can pay for mum or dad or nan or pop yourself so’s they can crawl. Why not, since it’s “the right thing to do”? Then you can hold onto the old dears in the spare bedroom, or else flee the caring, and leave the ranting and swearing and bedwetting and pants-pooping to some underpaid flunky to endure. Your choice.

    Facts are that right now I’m thinking “I don’t want to become a half-veggie myself, lingering and a burden on everybody”, but I also accept that I’ve heard this before from loads of others, and then seen the reality as “dead” people are kept alive for no reason. The answer is; offer everyone a document to sign at say pension age. “If you become a tiresome waste of space and wanted by no-one…this being proven since they will not take you themselves, not even those virtuous Cat Bloggers, you agree to be euthanized after due process” Due process being some medical assessment or other…and so be it.

    What’s not to like about this?

    BTW: Slightly OT. A sheila I know (not a friend) has a total veggie son aged late-20s who costs about $200,000 a year to keep alive. When she was pregnant her doc advised abortion, as the current result was inevitable. No way! This sheila now leaves 99% of the “caring” to others since she’s now “reconciled” herself to the son never being anything other than what he is. She now has fun while the son is in care. F*ck this…..better the RSPCA gets the dough to keep all those loyal and lovable muttsalive and in Schmackos than all this crap. Aged care is an abomination!

  32. Bad Samaritan

    Stackja (8.36 pm). Didn’t notice this second post so hot on the heels of the 8.29 pm one… reply…

    Plenty of younger people want to end it all so why not let them? Especially if they’re terminally ill and /or in pain….or incapacitated with no hope of living a decent life again. This latter being their assessment.

    BTW: My 16 year old beagle is half blind and three-quarters deaf and has bad lungs + enlarged heart, and now testicular cancer. However, so long as I let his lead drag on the ground behind him so’s to catch him if he’s about to run into a tree or over a cliff, he still enjoys long walks and runs….is even at me right now to go out. I will not let him suffer if he gets incapacitated, incontinent etc, so why would I do that to my mum or dad?

    2nd BTW; I owe my canine mate my life.

  33. Jock

    As a follow up can I make the following observations:
    Are/were we meant to last past 70? Its a fair question. Yes we are going to 100. But the vast majority dont really have a life after 80. Its more an existence. I know that some are vital right through but are these the outliers rather than the norm.?

    Second. Euthenasia is to my way of thinking, a right. There must come a time when we can bundy off if we see life as a burden and no longer a gift. In the olden days in many societies this was seen as a right and as a positive for the community. I recall in that movie Little big man with Dustin Hoffman the old Indian just getting up one night and going off to die in the freezing weather. It was his right and duty.

  34. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    Euthanising people is a slippery slope. It can lead to a cult of guru-determined ‘expert led’ deaths, often corrupted further as purchasable by beneficiaries.

    Left well alone, nature will take its course, alleviated with modern drugs, and with the right to refuse additional treatments via a ‘living will’ asserting by individual volition a willingness to to submit to nature (with pain relief), which is very different to active euthanasia. People are not dogs, even when in various states of incapacity. To think and act otherwise diminishes and in totalitarian systems extinguishes the very concept of valuing individual humans. A price far to high to contemplate.

    Trying to care humanely for all, rather than merely warehouse the unlucky ones, should be the guiding principle of public policy. Costly maybe, but necessary.

  35. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    I have seen some ‘for profit’ nursing homes that do no more than warehouse the elderly poor. And I have seen some that are so much better than this for the same clientele, successfully run and still profitable. Pulling the bad ones into line should be a priority.

  36. Boambee John

    Good retirement villages offer additional in-home support services to those in independent living villas and apartments. They also often have a block of “supported living” apartments, where meals, cleaning and other care are provided, at a scale selected by the occupants.

    These additional services come at a cost, but so do nursing homes.

  37. Tim Neilson

    Euthanising people is a slippery slope. It can lead to a cult of guru-determined ‘expert led’ deaths, often corrupted further as purchasable by beneficiaries.

    Case in point: that instance in Holland of an old woman struggling and screaming “I don’t want to die” being held down by her family while the doctor administered the lethal injection.

    Even the “progressives” admitted that that one was ‘problematic”.

    But society will get used to it.

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