OUR SAY: Dignity and comfort for homeless in their old age

ON just about any morning in Orange homeless people can be seen making their way around, often with all they own carried in bags or loaded in a shopping trolley.

Between Orange and the rest of the central west there are an estimated 400 people relying on emergency shelter or sleeping rough.

They come and go depending on the season and the availability of emergency accommodation, and for many there is no end to this routine in sight.

It is bad enough for younger, healthier people, but what happens to the homeless when they age?

Emergency or temporary accommodation is no solution for these people who, for myriad reasons, have slipped through the system and are facing old age without their most basic need met, a permanent place to call home.

It is an emotional as well as a physical burden they bear, lacking the comfort that comes with certainty about food and shelter and the pleasure of company and conversation that every person should enjoy. 

A proposed 60-bed aged care facility in the vicinity of the hospital will go some way to meeting the needs of these most disadvantaged in what is a very vulnerable group.

It is the type of facility that is severely lacking in the central west, accommodation not just for single homeless people but for those on low incomes facing the prospect of not being able to find or afford accommodation as they grow old and require the sort of increasing care most of us eventually need.

Being beyond the reach of support services that  are tailored around visiting people in their own homes and helping keep them there, ageing homeless people miss out on health services as well as shelter, meals and companionship.

The aged-care facility for the homeless and disadvantaged will fill a huge gap in our support services and bring the dignity that should come with old age.


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