Topic: Tackling Ageism – Starting with Ourselves

Day: Monday 19 October 2020

Time:  12:00pm-12:30pm AEDT


Ageism is widespread across our communities. It is experienced at different times, in different ways, throughout our lives but has a significant impact on the quality of life of Australians as they become older. Whilst this is recognised by many within the aged care sector, and many aged care organisations fly the anti-ageism flag, how do we ensure that our organisations and our industry does not perpetuate ageism. Ageism can work in subtle ways and we are often unaware that we are being ageist.

Indeed, there are ways in which our aged care system might fuel, rather than challenge, ageism. The Aged Care Quality Standards themselves pose a challenge in this respect in having to balance institutional needs with individual rights. Whilst Standard 1 requires providers to afford service users ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’. How do we do this in practice and with real authenticity? How does the culture of the organisation mitigate against ageism? With Standard 3 how do we ensure that our clinical governance requirements do not inhibit personal choice? How do we support families to not be ageist?

Over the last few years ECH has been asking itself these questions as we try to ensure that a person’s right to ‘self-determination’ is centre stage and maintained until death. This has not been without its challenges and there is still some way to go. Drawing on our experience, good and bad, and using practical examples, this presentation will enable people to reflect on their own organisation in terms of ageism. It will look at how to engage service users in organisational development, the role of staff training and support and the impact of leadership at every level. In addition it will reflect on our learnings to date in terms of the implications for future models of care and service delivery.





David originally trained as a psychologist and has been a Chief Executive in health and social care services for almost 30 years. In the UK he initially worked in the NHS in London and more latterly local government, where he was CE of Brighton & Hove City Council for a number of years before moving to Australia. In 2004 he was recruited to the SA public health system where for over 10 years he led reforms including the development of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital. Currently the CE of profit-for-purpose ECH Inc, SA’s biggest provider of housing and home care services for older people, David is passionate about enabling people to live well until death in their own home. David is a past President of the Australian Hospitals & Healthcare Association and is currently the Chair of the SA Council of Social Service, a Director of ACOSS and a Director of Leading Age Services Australia.