Aged Care Crisis: Ethics in our Modern Day Practice


The Australian Intercultural Society hosted a panel on aged care which was moderated by Professor Sandra Jones, Vice-Chancellor of Engagement at Australian Catholc University and consisted of Professor Simon Robin and Professor Ismail Albayrak. 

Aged Care is not something that is frequently discussed in Australia as it is not something that has had significant relevance in the population until recently. However, the number of elderly people in the population is expected to double in Australia by the year 2047, which means it is time to start a discussion and determine exactly what sort of care should be required for the elderly population. 

Ismail Albayrak brings up a good point at the beginning of this panel when he discusses the “hurry up and die” outlook that many citizens seem to have on the elderly. “We see elderly people as a burden. We look at them always from a business perspective.. [from an] economic perspective, [from a] social issues perspective.. We can’t see the blessing in their existence… we have to improve some personalized relations”. He highlights the fact that the elderly are severely overlooked in society and calls for people to begin viewing the elderly more from a human being stand-point than a burden. He stresses that “we cannot solve this problem by allocating extra budget to age care facilities” and points out that it is more so an issue of ethics and morality. “The ethics and morality are never raised as an issue in aged care.. The focus is more on the physical goodness of the elederly, but the elderly need more than that”. He continues to point out the importance of spirituallity and faith in many of the elderly’s lives and calls for more spiritual guidance in aged care facilities. “As a muslim, up until my last breath, faith is very important. And people as they are getting older and older, they think more about the fear of that, it’s a very important issue”. He continues to say that even just small things such as “reflecting and doing yoga helps [someone] in age care.”

This sparked an interesting conversation on how those working in aged care facilities should guide the elderly in terms of hope for an afterlife. Simon Robin emphasizes that “Most people don’t have a clear idea of the afterlife” and it is an interesting controversy on whether or not aged care workers should be responsible for providing hope. Everyone has a different outlook on death and the afterlife and facilities need to be able to support all beliefs in the afterlife or lack thereof. 

Robin also brings up the fact that a lot of the issues with current aged care facilities do not fall on the employees that work there, but the government’s inability to support the facilities as a whole. “they blamed the nurses. The nurses were the ones who got it in the back of the neck. The government got scott free… what was interesting is that I think the nurses accepted the blame… if were not pushing back against all the authority groups, this kind of care isn’t going to be born”. Sandra Jones chimes in, saying “It’s not just about making sure our nurses and care workers are actually behaving ethically and have the right values, it comes down from the top.”

She continues to discuss the increasing number of elederly people in nursing homes suffering from depression, which is at a colossal 50% compared to the elderly living in their communities with depression, which is at a significantly lower number of 15%. Being engaged in society provides the elderly with a feeling that they are still worth something and people still want them around, which is a feeling they should receive whether they are in an aged care facility or not. 

Speaker Bios

Professor Simon Robinson

Simon Robinson is Professor of Applied and Professional Ethics, and Director of Research Centre for Governance, Leadership and Global Responsibility, Leeds Beckett University. Simon developed his academic work in business ethics and pastoral and social theology at Oxford, Heriot Watt, Edinburgh and Leeds Universities. He now focuses on business and professional ethics, the nature and practice of responsibility, responsibility and pedagogy, governance, and leadership ethics across all sectors. Among his publications: Moral Meaning and Pastoral Counselling; (ed. with Chris Megone) Case Histories in Business Ethics; Living Wills; (with Kevin Kendrick and Alan Brown) Spirituality and Healthcare; Ministry Amongst Students; (ed. with Clement Katulushi) Values in Higher Education; (with Ross Dixon, Chris Preece and Kris Moodley) Engineering, Business and Professional Ethics.

Professor Sandra Jones

Professor Sandra Jones is the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Engagement at the Australian Catholic University. Her role provides leadership, advice and support for ACU’s community engagement strategy, including strategic frameworks that implement the new measurement of research engagement and impact. 
Prior to her current appointment Sandra was the Director of ACU’s Centre for Health and Social Research (CHaSR), a research centre focused on social marketing and community-based research. From 2001 to 2014 she was the Founding Director of the Centre for Health Initiatives at the University of Wollongong. Her research focuses on the relationship between media and health, including the impacts of advertising in the print and electronic media on health behaviour, and the use of social marketing to improve population health. She also conducts research in the area of advertising and marketing regulation, particularly in relation to alcohol marketing. Sandra has published more than 130 refereed papers and been awarded in excess of $7 million in research funding. Sandra is the also a Director of CatholicCare Melbourne

Professor Ismail Albayrak

Dr. Albayrak received his PhD degree from Leeds University in 2000. He works on Islamic studies and specifically on Qur’anic Studies, Classical exegesis, Contemporary Approaches to the Qur’an and Orientalism. He is also interested in the place of Muslim communities and their activities in Globalizing World together with the study of interfaith dialogue. Prof Albayrak completed his PhD studies in Qur’anic narrative and Isrâ’îliyyât in Western scholarship and in classical exegesis at the University of Leeds. Prof Albayrak’s recent books among his publications are Mastering Knowledge in Modern Times: Fethullah Gülen as an Islamic Scholar., Fethullah Gulen’s Approach to the Quranic Exegesis. He has successfully collaborated towards enriching academic society with cross cultural awareness and religious enlightenment in seminars delivered in academic and interfaith dialogue platforms. His interest field is classical and moderns exegesis, contemporary Muslim communities and interfaith dialogue. Prof Albayrak has participated in and organised many national and international conferences in the US, Germany, London, Turkey and Australia. Some of the significant conferences that he organised are From Dialogue to Collaboration: The Vision of Fethullah Gülen and Muslim-Christian Relations and Islamophobia: Fear of the Other Conference in 2009 and Oryantalizmi Yeniden Okumak: Batı’da İslam Çalışmaları/Re-evaluation of Orientalism: Islamic Studies in the West in 2002.

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