Ritsa Gray is a Greek Australian carer who has been working with dementia patients for more than 15 years.

“Maintaining connection to our community is paramount at each stage of life.”

She is currently responsible for the wellbeing of nine people at Fronditha Care, but some other carers have to attend to up to 24 cases in day groups.

Carers struggle to take care of dementia cases to the best of their ability, but the workload is often beyond their capacity, as many patients have reached a state where most functions are gone.

“The number of elders with dementia is constantly rising and at the moment the ratio is seven patients to one carer at activity groups,” she says, whilst noting that the ratio is one-to-five in hospitals.

“The ratio needs to be at least one-to-two in order to effectively manage a very old and sick person.”

The programs at Fronditha Care Community Services aim to maintain the independence of seniors within their own homes. However, when their circumstances require a high level of care or when there is no immediate family to assist, aged residents are moved into a safe environment.

Gray is concerned that the pressure resulting from a lack of resources and personnel is affecting the elderly. Meanwhile, it is essential for people in this demanding job to be properly trained to deal not only with the behavioural disorders of Alzheimer’s patients, but also abusive families at times, and to maintain a high standard of care and professionalism whilst doing so.

“The staff at all of the Fronditha Care facilities are trained in the development of care plans to ensure that needs are identified and goals are met,” she says.

“Residents and their families are also encouraged to be involved in the caring process. However, some people get frustrated with how demanding taking care of their old parents can be, which might lead to cruel and insensitive behaviour.”

As a result, carers have to deal with patients’ loneliness, desperation, neglect and cases of abuse, offering companionship and comfort.

Residents are encouraged to remain mobile and active, both physically and mentally, through a range of activities such as reading, craft workshops and discussion groups. All facilities have registered nurses and personal carers on duty 24 hours a day, and meals are prepared by cooks in on-site kitchens. Cleaning, laundry, hairdressing and additional health services are also provided.

“Australian citizens will be lucky to receive proper treatment in the near future, at the rate the government is making cuts on aged care.

“Let’s not forget that we’ll all have to walk in those shoes one day; no one stays young forever.”