Aged care the only option for stroke victim

AT 50, Sandra Stanton feels too young to live in a nursing home.

But the former Launceston resident and teacher has had no choice but to spend the past four years living at Mount St Vincent Nursing Home in Ulverstone.

As of October last year, Ms Stanton was one of 13 people under the age of 50 and 132 people between the ages of 51 and 65 living in residential aged care in Tasmania.

According the the Productivity Commission's Report of Government Services released last month, Tasmania had the highest rate of young people admitted to permanent residential aged care per 10,000 potential population in 2009-10.

Ms Stanton said she was put in the nursing home against her will at 46 years of age, following a stint at Eskleigh Home.

``I was sent to Eskleigh first of all and I didn't want to go there because I've got a mind and independent thoughts and things and I wasn't that bad,'' she said.

``Then I came here and it was a temporary sort of thing - I was told it was only temporary.''

Ms Stanton, who cannot walk, said she was sent to the home because it was the only place that could provide the care she needed after she suffered a stroke at 42 and was diagnosed with Addison's disease shortly after.

She said she had been working with Advocacy Tasmania for several years to leave the home and move back to Launceston, near her 22-year-old daughter.

``I'm the only girl over here, there is one right down the other end of the home. It's so lonely,'' Ms Stanton said.

``It's depressing and I was seeing a psychologist and she couldn't help me at all because I was so depressed and it was about where I was living.''

Brain Injury Association of Tasmania executive officer Deborah Byrne said aged care was one of the only options for people with disabilities - particularly in the North of the state.

``It is very much a postcode lottery where if you get a brain injury in the South you are much better off than if you get it in the North-West because there are more services,'' Ms Byrne said.

She said research had shown aged care could be quite detrimental to people with disabilities.

``When they are supported in the community they have a better chance of rehabilitation,'' she said.

``They don't get their needs met in aged care because there is a lack of peer interaction, they have nothing in common with other residents and that is very difficult.

``Even the building design is an issue - they should have a private room but sometimes they will have to share a room with an elderly person . . . this can all make them feel depressed, lonely and frustrated and exacerbate their health issues.''

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