We are being strangled by red tape! 73



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The need for rules and records is understandable. The records help institutions to plan for the future. But when did the stranglehold of red tape begin to get so tight?

And how many good people are being disadvantaged by the need to follow ‘health and safety’ rules, like the stupidity of stopping children playing in parks as it’s considered dangerous? Or the tuck shop lady… thanks to new rules needs a ‘working with children’ certificate? Which by the way doesn’t stop the really evil predators at all, they are way too crafty!




Working in aged care for nearly 20 years, as a home care assistant, activities organiser and a hospital personal care nurse, I watched as red tape eroded the time we could spend with patients. Time we needed to do our job properly.

Having to be on the computer for an hour to write up notes as well as copy in triplicate these same remarks and outcomes takes time. Time the resident needs! Then the meetings to discuss at length more and more new laws they think up! At this time the patients are waiting for a shower or to be fed, but the poor nurse is tied up in a paper jungle.  It isn’t their choice, they have to produce the records or there is no funding as we were told constantly!  And we all know how much funding is a struggle to get and keep! It seems so sad that that the person who should be central to it all, the person who needs care is forgotten. A case of ‘elder abuse’ if ever there was one!

When I first started in a nursing home, we could give time to the residents as well as making sure they were nourished, clean and comfortable. We could put a bit of make up on for them, or take them for a walk in the garden.

When I did activities duty, we could cook with them. I made fried rice, pancakes and cakes. It was fun, they enjoyed it and we got pleasure from their joy too. We took a whole bus full, in wheelchairs to an animal sanctuary, an art gallery and the zoo.  We had lots of willing chair pushers, and helpers. Imagine that now? It’s probably not considered safe so wouldn’t happen.

Way back in the 90’s my co-worker and I arranged for a whole mini farm to come to the nursing home. As the weather was bad, we had the day room covered in black plastic as the calf, ducks, rabbits and hens wandered amongst the residents. The best moment, one that I really treasure was a little Russian lady with a hen on her lap, she had tears of happiness rolling down her cheeks. Something like that today would send the ‘fun police’ into a spin!

Perhaps some things still happen, I know our local Nursing home has outings and events. They have a dedicated team who make sure it happens and they do all they can to make life good for residents. In spite of the rules.

Then we have the volunteer fiasco, police checks, OK we need them… Food handling, yes OK need them. But how many volunteers don’t bother to go along to help because they have to deal with all the paperwork? Older people are put off by the forms and rules. My husband was on the board of a hospital, he did that for eight years, no pay, a lot of hours but he liked being part of the system. Then a new rule came in, he had to fill in a huge pile of forms, fifty or more pages about every aspect of his life. He decided that was it and he resigned! So they lost a member with valuable knowledge.

One more story of total stupidity…. I belong to a casual writing group, we meet at an adult learning centre in a house where there are other groups too. A girl aged 14, who was home schooled and wanted desperately to write came and asked could she join. The five of us, all over 60 said yes, if she wanted we would be happy about her coming. Her mother brought her and when Mum left we enjoyed hearing her writing, which was very good. We had tea and arranged to see her next time. WRONG. The rule makers decided we all needed a ‘working with children’ certificate.

Imagine that, a day time meeting in an open public room with other groups, a supervisor in the next room and a table of five oldies drinking tea. The young girl was banned unless her mother could stay and as they ran a farm this was impossible.  So the young girl went back to writing alone.

I know who I would like to strangle with that red tape!

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. Police checks and having to pay for them in every state needs to be looked at. Want to work with the Aged but need a police check of course but should one which is from one state do all of Australia. By the time it comes through we have moved on, residents who do not get visitors, precious time for them and us gone and wasted due to waiting for the check from another State. Insurance claims against anyone and everyone over the slightest thing has made the rules of the card for working with aged and care essential to cover their own arse. Humanity is no longer a matter of need it seems.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree Cheryl wasted time as the wheels move slowly, precious time you could have given to someone. The human needs often get swept aside as another faceless person makes up some more rules in some back room, and then an avalanche of paperwork follows, our local DSE has name changed three times, each time money was spent on stationery, logos, etc, such a dreadful waste it seems to me of time and recources, Oh dear sound like a grumpy old woman! but I really care about the community and some of the rules are not intended to make life run smoothly for us.

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