Great aged care gives life dignity

Peter Kell

There has been much in the media over the past few months about aged care, the needs of carers and services for people with a disability.

I hope you were taking notice, because the euthanasia debate which is set to erupt could be neutralised, if not dispelled by a Christian response that references these issues.

You see, it's not enough to just say 'No!' to euthanasia - because any thinking person will ask why.

We can tell people that God intends life to be relational and that we have a duty to care for others in this context. But many people simply just won't care what we have to say about God.

But they will care what we have to say about good policy and services - the provision of world-class aged care that provide exceptional palliative care in loving, community settings.

A response requires we give alternatives

Australia's population is ageing rapidly. The Productivity Commission estimates that by 2051 6.8 million Australians will be aged over 65. That's about one quarter of the population.

What need! What opportunity!

Despite the fact that aged care funding and models of care need a massive overhaul by all Governments, those of us who love Christ can loudly say that we value life because He sustains it.

Anglicare Sydney tries to put these principles into action through our Chesalon Services. Just this week we are opening a new 62 bed facility at Malabar that provides a wide range of low and high-needs residential aged care, as well as dementia respite.

But putting our money where our mouth is - and where our faith in Christ leads us - is not easy. The current structure of aged care services in Australia is totally outdated and unsustainable. Fundamental reform is needed so that older people can have a real quality of life as they come to the end of theirs.

Be smart about what you say about life and death

And so we should speak up about caring well for those whose life's end is near and be smart about the policy options that make a difference: community centred care that is flexible and offers easy transition to residential facilities that offer links to outstanding palliative care.

Ironically, being smart about alternative policy options commends the integrity of believers and helps them witness to God's loving care for His world.

So when you say 'No!' to euthanasia be sure to say 'Yes!' to life - because God made and sustains it and has generously given us the resources to care for others' lives even better than we do now.

Peter Kell is the CEO of Anglicare Sydney

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