How having 90 words for snow relates to aged care

Article published 23 July 2020

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THE Inuit apparently have 90 words that mean snow. The reason for this is that there’s a lot of snow where they live. Lots of different types of snow.

The new Service Compliance Rating system on for residential aged care (covered in the July 2020 VOICE as the “Michelin Guide to Australian nursing homes”) awards a maximum of four dots to nursing homes.

One dot to the really, really bad nursing homes.

Two dots to the really bad nursing homes.

Three dots to the nursing homes that are just bad.

And four dots to nursing homes that range from sort-of-OK to truly excellent.

Get it? Three classifications for bad and one for good.

The Service Compliance Rating System assumes that people want to know how bad nursing homes are. Not how good.

The response of the aged care industry to the new Service Compliance Rating system has been … eskimo-ish.

The industry peak organisation ACSA has said it is upset about the three-dot rating.

The one dot rating is fine by them.

Two dots, no probs.

Four dots, cool!

But three dots, that’s what’s really upset ACSA.

Why? Because three dots are awarded to a nursing home if improvements are needed, but – and this is the monumental unfairness! – it doesn’t matter if the home needs one or ten improvements! They all get three dots!


So, along similar lines to snow vocabulary, the aged care industry wants, you guessed it, more dots to indicate the level of nursing home badness. There’s a lot of shades of badness around when it comes to nursing homes, maybe as much as there is snow on the North Pole.

ACSA didn’t say how many more dots it wanted, but THE VOICE suggests ninety might be a good start.

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