Combating ageism, dementia-ism and paternalism in long-term care: Human rights as a practice model

Daniella Greenwood, Daniella Greenwood & Associates, Australia

Theme: Ageism
Format: Paper


Submit an abstract today to the topic of Ageism, Age-friendly cities and communities, Primary health care, Long-term care and Older people and pandemics.


Ageism, dementia-ism and paternalism structure the lives of older people living in long-term care, diminishing their status as equal citizens.  Person-centred and relationship-centred approaches have failed to address the deeply embedded philosophical and operational influence of the medical/institutional model and paternalistic assumptions.  People living with dementia in these institutions continue to be treated as patients rather than as adult citizens, exposing them to regular, unchallenged and often casual breaches of their human rights justified as ‘best interests’ or as ‘interventions’ to manage what are commonly referred to as the behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

The focus on ‘culture change’ has further obscured the urgency of our obligation to address the blatant and often state-sanctioned human rights breaches in long-term care which in any other care context would be regarded as profoundly unjust and, in many instances, illegal.

A human rights lens is applied with practical examples outlining the possibility of creating an environment of recognition and true respect in long-term care through solidarity in aligning operations, attitudes, practices and processes with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The paper builds on the work completed in a BA (Hons 1) dissertation at Charles Sturt University and reviews the development of a human rights practice model including the creation of human rights assessment tools, operational guidelines and training resources for an aged care organisation in Australia.

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