Friday, 18 March 2016

On line, on line, on line,

and yet again, on line.
The last Medicare communication included a flyer to remind people that cheques would no longer be sent. The money would go directly into your bank account instead. If you didn't provide a  bank account number then...
Yes, I imagine that most people do have bank accounts (or building society or cooperative accounts)  these days but nevertheless it was yet another reminder that here is another way in which the government can monitor us. In many ways the idea of money going straight into a bank account seems like a good idea but, in this instance, it may also cause some serious complications. 
There is the underlying assumption there that people will also bank on line. Some people can't. Other people don't. Still more won't. The Senior Cat can't. He doesn't know how to do it and he doesn't want to. His banking needs are fairly simple. We don't pay anything by direct debit because that bothers him too.
I might do  things this way but it worries him so we don't do it. I am not going to argue. 
Now his bank wants to charge him an excessive fee for sending out a paper statement - a fee far in excess of the cost of doing the task. Again, it's about "encouraging" people to bank on line. (I look at the bank tellers and think of  them moving to the unemployment queue.) Again too, it is making the assumption that everyone has access to a computer and knows how to use it - and use it safely.
The answer of course is that not everyone has a computer. Not everyone knows how to use one. Every single one of us can make a mistake or be fooled by a fake website.  We may be becoming more computer literate and more aware but there is a long way to go.
And then, yesterday, we discovered another problem. There is an assessment scheme for older people here. It is generally known as an "ACAT assessment" - an Aged Care Assessment Team assessment. It's designed to see what help an older person might need at home in order to stay there. Good idea? Yes - if it works.
The problem we discovered is that these assessments can no longer be access through a doctor at a hospital (a logical place for one to be requested surely). The hospital said it was the GPs responsibility. No, the GP is no longer permitted to ask for one. (Another logical place surely?) No, you have to go on line and request one yourself.
Ummm? Hold on. They expect an older person, unlikely to own a computer or have access to one, to go on line and request their own ACAT assessment? Clearly that does not work.
Middle Cat and I decided that somewhere along the line a medical social worker might have to be involved for some people. For the rest, it is up to the family or, perhaps, a trusted friend. Things have changed since I last inquired about such things. When I last did it for an elderly friend it was a simple matter of going with her to her GP and the request being put in. 
That is of course the way things should work. They should work in the simplest logical way - not merely the simplest way. 
Middle Cat can deal with the application today while she is father-sitting. I am off to the dentist and a different set of forms but the dentist will deal with those - online. 

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