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Stuck in limbo

Wednesday, 1st June, 2011

By Darrin Manuel

As politicians and health officials begin fighting for long-term solutions to the city's aged care crisis, the future of those stuck in limbo between the hospital and aged care placement remains uncertain.

A spokesman for the hospital said 10 frail aged patients were still housed at the hospital, and at least one of them was expected to be moved to Wilcannia within a week.

The families of another two elderly people, who were to be sent to Wilcannia, have found places for them interstate.

One is Brian Sellick, whose family were fortunate enough to secure an aged care position for him in Adelaide.

His nephew, Robin Sellick, was pleased to see progress on the aged care issue at a political level, but said long-term solutions were of little immediate comfort to families whose loved ones were still facing relocation.

"We were very lucky to find him a bed ... but not everyone is going to be that lucky," Mr Sellick said.

"This action that is occurring now should have happened years ago. Any time in the last 20 years would have been a good time to make a start on this.

"It's great that the politicians are now going through this process, but it's probably the same process they've been through many times before. 

"It's insanity to keep doing the same thing over and over and hope for a different outcome.

"In Broken Hill we really have to get smarter about the way we do things."

Mr Sellick said he supported the idea of a delegation of politicians and health officials travelling to Canberra to seek assistance on the city's aged care issue, but stressed the importance of arming our representatives with short-term solutions to present to health ministers.

"The thing with Broken Hill - we all know it's a unique place, it's unique geographically, with its culture and its people, so we need to be looking at unique solutions to the problem," he said.

"If you go to the government and say 'We've got a problem, can you solve it for us?' it will go in a tray and nothing will be done about it.

"We need to bring them three or four suggested solutions and say 'can you fund these things that we've come up with?'

"The politicians are doing their big picture thing, but in the meantime we need to think creatively.

"We don't have all the advantages of the city. We have to innovate and find creative solutions to problems."

Mr Sellick suggested requesting modest emergency funding from the Commonwealth Government to buy vacant homes in which to temporarily house locals facing relocation.

Funding could also be sought to transform the nurses' quarters into an interim aged care facility, he said.

"It might only take a couple of million, but that sort of money can be found. If you go in asking for 30 million then fair enough, there's going to be a wait."

Like many other locals, Mr Sellick said the aged care problem was one that required the city to present a united front, lest we continue to be treated as second class citizens.

"I think here in in Broken Hill we've gotten used to being treated like a second-rate town," he said.

"There's the perception that the people on the coast don't care, won't help and that we get no attention - and that's true. 

"But if we as a community just sit back and accept that, then they'll keep treating us like that.

"When we actually decide to stand up, that's when things will actually change, and this is a great opportunity to cause this change."

One way to realise this change was through support of a petition that is being circulating in local businesses, he said.

NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell made a pre-election promise that any petition with 10,000 signatures would be treated as a matter of urgency in parliament.

Should the local petition reach this number, the city's aged care woes may gain greater recognition from State and Federal politicians.

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