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Centrelink worker urges dignified treatment for seniors

“To have acknowledgement of my existence, to be respected and to keep my dignity.”

These were the three last wishes of Ethel, an aged care resident.

Department of Human Services aged care team leader Gianna Luccitti befriended Ethel while visiting her elderly mother.

“Ethel lived in the room next to my mother. After hearing from a staff member that no one had visited her in two years, it broke my heart,” Luccitti said.

Her story is one of many that prevailed during Dementia Awareness Month and National Carer’s Week, which took place in September and October respectively.

Luccitti began visiting Ethel every day after work when she saw her mother, and Ethel’s response resonated with her.

“Her response stuck with me. If you ask most people that question, they’ll say something like a holiday or to win the lottery,” she said.

Aged care is something Luccitti is passionate about, and it’s something she devotes herself to in her role at work. She said those in aged care often have no one to speak up for them, and a lot of the time they are vulnerable.

“Not long after Ethel had passed away, I was helping an elderly aged care customer with their payment and it dawned on me.

“It doesn’t cost us anything to acknowledge the elderly, even if it’s just with a smile. But to them it can mean so much,” she said.

The department delivers approximately $1.5 billion a month in aged care costs and fees to providers of both residential and home care.

Department of Human Services financial information service officer Justin Bott said seniors and carers should look into Centrelink services and support to help prepare for retirement.

He said it was imperative to get the conversation started about topics like career payments, power of attorney arrangements and downsizing.

Bott joins us to talk about the support available for people living with dementia, those who care for them, and the options for people considering entering aged care.

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