Frank Weits, the chief executive officer of South Australian aged care provider ACH Group, and home care client Pon Pheng talk to Australian Ageing Agenda about inclusive aged care and the Action Plan for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse older people.
- Read FECCA chair Mary Patestos’ article on the CALD Action Plan here
ACH Group CEO Frank Weits: ACH Group has supported older South Australians from culturally and spiritually diverse communities for over 65 years. We look forward to continuing to partner with CALD communities throughout South Australia to realise the Federal Government’s commitment to deliver more inclusive and culturally appropriate aged care services.
AAA: How inclusive is your aged care service?
At ACH Group, we celebrate diversity and acknowledge and respect people from all cultural backgrounds, religious and spiritual beliefs and practices. We recognise that language and cultural differences can create barriers for older people when it comes to engaging with providers in accessing services and support. This is a long-term commitment that requires leadership, dedication and effort.
What steps have you taken to make your service more inclusive?
As part of our Muslim partnership established five years ago, we have built an understanding of the Muslim community and assisted in respectful and meaningful interactions with its older members.
As part of the partnership, we developed an online Diversity Training Module, compiled three Muslim Aged Care handbooks, produced three educational videos and trained more than 700 staff. Other CALD initiatives supported by ACH Group include the Cambodian Community Program, founded in 2008 and the Free to Be Project, an award-winning LGBTI awareness training initiative launched in 2012.
It is vital in all these endeavours to partner with local communities, foster relationships and grow and equip the workforce to meet the needs of CALD customers.
What further steps do you intend to take?
Our partnership with local CALD communities continues to be a priority now and into the future. We are committed to ensuring access to high-quality, culturally-appropriate aged care for people from CALD backgrounds.
Do you have any tips for your fellow providers about building more inclusive services?
It is important that older people of all faiths and cultures are given the means to be as healthy as they can be and live their best lives. It takes leadership and a dedicated effort to partner with local communities, grow and equip a diverse workforce, and develop resources so that training can be embedded into everyday practice.
A mainstream client experience
ACH Group client Pon Pheng: Every Tuesday I go to ACH Group’s Cambodian Day Group to socialise, connect with other members of the Cambodian community and exercise by dancing and walking around the oval.
We meet at the hall next to the temple to enjoy music, share lunch, and spend time together. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends each week.
On Friday I go to the Khmer temple and ACH Group helps with transport. There are workers who speak Khmer and who translate English documents for us.
It is important to me to spend time at the temple to pray and meditate with Buddhist Monks. Every year we celebrate Cambodian New Year with a special day where we wear traditional dress, dance and enjoy being together.
AAA: What would make your aged care experience more inclusive?
ACH Group helps me with paying my bills, someone accompanies me for shopping, banking and booking appointments, I have help with transport and support to attend medical and dental appointments and some help at home. It would be good to see more Khmer language in public places and help with understanding technology.
How can the action plan can help you and others have a more inclusive aged care experience?
It will be good to have better understanding of other cultures and to make it easier for people who do not speak English to understand more and help them get better health care and access to technology.
Why would you like aged care providers to engage with the action plan?
It is important to me to spend time with my community and culture and I hope that other people have the same opportunity around Australia.
The action plan to support CALD people is available in more than 25 languages. Access it here.
This article first appeared in Australian Ageing Agenda magazine (July-August 2019).