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Glen Gillinghman transcript from "Saturday Break" on 6PR 882

Peter Vlahos, Station Producer: For the man who knows the industry better than anybody here in Western Australia is the man that is the owner of the Berrington Group. They’ve got two aged care facilities in Subiaco and Como, and you might hear Glen featured here on 6PR during the course of the week. He now joins us on the program now on the satellite break. Glen, thanks for your time.

Glen Gillingham, Chief Executive Officer, Berrington: Good afternoon, Peter. How are you?

PV: There certainly has been a spotlight on the aged care industry. As a person that’s actually front and center and involved in it, how do you perceive the whole industry on the back end of that Four Corners exposé?

GG: The Four Corners exposé showed some really shocking mistreatment of people within aged care facilities. And that can’t be tolerated by anybody—not by the public, not by the government, uh not by providers, anybody. So I think that spotlight is uh well worth having.

PV: A lot of people in the industry have ducked for cover. You, on the other hand, have been quite happy to talk about it so going forward uh what is your perception of what needs to be done if anything needs to be done to make sure there’s a lot more confidence within the industry?

GG: The industry does need a spotlight on it, and our people need to understand exactly what aged care is about and how aged care operates within our society. And currently, you know what we see with the mistreatment of our elderly can’t be tolerated at all. And so we need to have a conversation about that as a society, and that’s what we’re doing at the moment. And shed a spotlight onto aged care and see and for society to say this is the aged care that we want going forward.

PV: It’s interesting about what you say there about maybe the abuse of older people in aged care. Now there’s been a call from people who certainly like to have an opinion on this about saying, ‘why don’t we put cameras in the rooms of aged care so we can monitor exactly how the people are being treated?’

GG: That’s an interesting point, isn’t it? You know I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too keen on having a camera say in my bedroom or in my bathroom or in my toilet. And just because people get older, it doesn’t mean—though we fear that they might be mistreated—it doesn’t take their rights away to privacy and dignity and all those sorts of things, so that really has to be carefully balanced within our society. We certainly want a safe aged care environment, but we don’t want to impinge—take people’s rights in getting there.

PV: It’s so important, isn’t it? Without aged care, we can’t function as a society. This is a very important part of our community, and it needs to be nurtured and if it needs to be tweaked—if we term it that way—then let’s spend money to make sure that we get it right.

GG: Yeah if we took out residential aged care as an option that means the people in residential aged care would need to be cared for in their home by their family or by the community or in our hospital system. You know aged care grew up out of the hospital system to start off with as a better solution to care for our elderly. So we certainly need it within our society. There’s no doubt about that. But we want a safe system, and we want to treat our elderly with respect, and we want to honour them. How we treat our elderly is a really big indicator on society and how you know respecting your elders is something that every society wants to do.

PV: Now I’m a baby boomer, and it appears that the baby boomers have been the ones who have been you know certainly critical and have run the aged care industry as the baby boomers. But now that they’ve got the parents of the age where maybe they need the aged care care—if you want to term it that way—like Berrington and other of course aged care facilities they reckon that the system is not good enough. Yet, it’s these people that have been running the system. Would that be fair to say?

GG: Look it is fair to say that. When I came into the industry 20 years ago, I observed that the aged care system that we had was great for the baby boomers’ grandparents, but it never was going to be good enough for their parents or for them either. So we’re seeing that change now. This is what this is all about. This is about us redefining what aged care is actually about. The volume of people coming through to the system is going to be a lot more, so we’re having a really close look at the system now and the baby boomers. The people who ran aged care for many, many years are the people who are going ‘let’s change it.’

PV: I know you’re very proud of what you’ve got and what you’ve achieved with your facilities, but there are some that need a good shake-up to be fair to say. Correct? There are some that really have been left behind.

GG: Yeah, when we see those Four Corners programs’ instances of abuse it’s a bit like childcare; if you have even one case of somebody being abused it is not good enough. If that’s happening within our aged care facility, then that’s not good enough. We’ve actually had an aged care system that’s gone through an accreditation process. The new Aged Care Act came in 1997. Accreditation started in about 1999. So we’ve been going nearly for 20 years within an accreditation system, and yet we still have instances where we’re saying that the aged care system is not meeting expectation. So there’s something that’s not working—whether there’s not enough funding; there’s certainly plenty of regulation. But you know there is something about the system currently that isn’t working.

PV: Mmm. So you’re saying these exposés on Four Corners and the fact that they in some ways displayed abuse of all the people in aged care is what sometimes we need in all industry, in all businesses. It’s a heck of a wake-up call.

GG: It is a heck of a wake-up call, isn’t it? When you view that footage and think there are not any Australians who wouldn’t be appalled with what we saw in that footage. I certainly hope that for other industries it doesn’t take that kind of footage to wake them up. But certainly within aged care itself we need the spotlight. We need to understand as a society what we want and to articulate that cause I can tell you that everybody within the aged care industry— whether it be a consumer, whether it be a provider, whether it be the government—every single person wants to provide what people want and wants to get it right.

PV: Hmm. And I suppose as we leave you Glen the main thing is we’re talking aged care, but the most important word out of those two is ‘care’ knowing that people can go in there and be looked after and in the end—in the twilight of their life—enjoy their final experience.

GG: Absolutely, you know ageing brings disability with it and it’s the disabilities of ageing that we provide for so when a person can’t do something for themselves any longer then we step in to assist them to be able to do that—not to do it for them unless they’re at that stage where they can’t do for themselves but to assist them so to have dignity and pride and respect and all those things that go along with it so they can continue to live a full and meaningful life. You know these people have given so much to society, and it really is an honour ah that when they get to the age where they need our assistance that we’re there to provide it for them and I know I certainly feel that way with a passion. And I know many, many other people within the aged care industry also feel that way.

PV: Great way to leave it. Glen, thanks for your time today and as I said people can hear you during the course of the week here on 882 6 PR. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend.

GG: I will do. Thank you.

PV: Thank you. Glen Gillingham there, the owner of the Berrington Group, also very much a spokesperson for aged care matters here in Perth, Western Australia. Nice to touch base with him.

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