Margaret Strahan: Head of Senior Services for Uniting Care in the Central Coast and Hunter region
At IGA, we care about supporting our local communities and those in need. That’s why we caught up with Margaret Strahan to chat about the new film release ALLELUJAH, a warm, humorous and deeply moving story about surviving old age. ALLELUJAH celebrates the spirit of the elderly, whilst paying tribute to the deep humanity of medical staff battling limited resources and ever-growing demand.
Margaret, what was your key takeaway from the film, ALLELUJAH?
My key takeaway from the film is how important it is to treat our elders with the respect and dignity they deserve. All people have wants and needs, and that doesn’t change in old age. The staff who work in aged care do an incredible job with very limited resources and we all know people who go the extra mile to support our elders to live their best life.
It also highlights the financial challenges of delivering care on a budget, which sees some care homes, especially small ones, forced to close when they cannot keep up with expectations.
From your experience in aged care, does the film share similarities to the elderly care here in Australia?
I saw a number of similarities and at the same time a number of differences. I believe in Australia we have worked hard to move away from an institutional model and more of an advocacy model, putting the decision making closer to the resident. This change is represented in the design of our buildings and more importantly in the culture we foster. With over 30 years’ experience in aged care, I have witnessed many positive changes. We have challenged ourselves as professionals to remember that we don’t always know what’s best for our residents in our care. Elderly people, even those living with dementia have a voice, and we have to advocate for them. For some reason, when someone enters a care home it is quite typical to look more to their family as their ultimate decision maker rather than their supported decision maker, this is something we need to remind ourselves and their representatives of at times.
Similarly across the globe, people who work in aged care do this because they are passionate, and want to see care delivered well. We are also fortunate to have wonderful volunteers who assist us to deliver something extra that tight budgets won’t always allow.
Why do you feel it’s important for people to watch this film?
The film, although it has many light-hearted moments, has a serious message to deliver. I think people need to watch this film to fully understand its message. Even with my experience, it gave me a lot of food for thought on how aged care can be perceived, by the media, by the community, and sometimes by ourselves. Aged care work is a profession, one I am proud to be a part of along with many extraordinary people. I believe it takes a certain type of person to work in aged care and experience both the joy in our success stories and its many challenges. I consider it a privilege to work with our elders and support them to continue to live their best life.
ALLELUJAH is in cinemas April 6th 2023. Watch the trailer here.