If you are housebound/bedbound due to chronic illness, you will be well aware of the limitations placed on yourself and others like you in accessing adequate healthcare. However, it is an issue that largely goes unnoticed, as the medical system and broader society either do not want to know or choose not to care about people in this situation.
It has taken a housebound/bedbound person herself to place a spotlight on the lack of medical care available to those who need it most. Ricky Buchanan, who has been bedridden and/or homebound for 20 years due to a combination of rare illnesses, wrote a report which canvasses the broad range of factors which influence the level of care a housebound/bedbound person receives.
Entitled “Just Invisible”- Medical Access Issues For Homebound/Bedridden Persons, this report may well be the first of its kind. I’d encourage anyone reading to hop over to Ricky’s website and take a look – it’s a shocking and at times confronting read, revealing the abject failure of the medical system in addressing the needs of those most desperately requiring medical help.
In Ricky’s words:
If you are homebound/bedridden and you live in the community, then the healthcare system treats you as if you do not exist.
People who are homebound and/or bedridden have extensive and systemic problems with accessing the medical healthcare system, including access to GPs, medical professionals, hospital systems and allied health. If you don’t turn up you are assumed not to need or want the service.
This is not like access to public transport, where we have excellent anti-discrimination laws but the government keeps awarding exceptions the rules.
This is not like access to websites, where there are excellent guidelines about how to be accessible but people just don’t follow them.
This problem is that the entire medical system has been designed and based around physical attendance, and that it treats non-attendance almost exclusively as a problem of patient noncompliance. There are a few small tweaks to make exceptions for people in rural and remote areas, and some even smaller tweaks for people who live in aged care, but in the main if you are homebound/bedridden and you live in the community, then the healthcare system treats you as if you do not exist and should not exist.
In the cases where a homebound/bedridden person is well accommodated, it is not because the healthcare system is working well. It is almost exclusively because someone has gone deliberately out of their way to help, and they will probably not be adequately compensated by Medicare or any other government system for doing so.
This extensive report details many of the problems faced by homebound/bedridden people trying to access the medical system, why the NDIS won’t fix these issues, and what governments and policy-makers need to do to begin to level the playing field.”
Ricky’s full report, executive summary and press releases can be accessed from her website, Not Done Living.