Group Pushes To Get Young Australians Out Of Nursing Homes
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 5, 2004
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--An estimated 6,000 Australians under age 65 are currently languishing in nursing homes across the country.
A 1999 report by the Institute of Health and Welfare found that young people make up 4.5 percent of all nursing home residents in Australia. Most have multiple sclerosis, acquired brain injury or other neurological conditions.
Some of those residents, along with their allies, are trying to change that.
The National Alliance of Young People in Nursing Homes (YPINH) was formed in May 2002. The advocacy group wants lawmakers to look toward funding alternatives for young people with disabilities.
"I am a 29-year-old Australian living in an aged care nursing home completely against my will and with the knowing consent of the federal government," Amber Foy, a resident at St. Michaels Nursing Home, wrote last October to Prime Minister John Howard.
"I am an intelligent young woman who is being robbed of her right to the appropriate accommodation and support I need to live her life as a valued and contributing member of Australian society," Foy wrote. "The issue of young people living in aged care facilities that were never intended to deal with this group and have never been funded to support people like me MUST BE ADDRESSED!"
In a related story, Kate Legge, reporter for The Australian, wrote a story Friday about Wesley Darling. The 25-year-old experienced a coma after a bout with encephalitis last June. Eleven weeks into the coma, he was diagnosed as being in a "vegetative state" and discharged to a nursing home. There he was parked beside two residents aged 91 and 86.
Darling's parents refused to give into the diagnosis and took it upon themselves to give their son the therapies and treatment the nursing home was unable to provide.
Wesley now breathes on his own and has been weaned off a feeding tube. His parents continue to talk to him, stretch his muscles and sing to him daily.
The Darlings have written to federal cabinet ministers asking for help. They are also organizing fund raisers.
"A place for the young" (The Australian)
National Alliance of Young People In Nursing Homes