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Media Release: New Research on Aged Care: Seniors Want a Place Like Home

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National Seniors Australia has released a comprehensive report on what older Australians want now in aged care, on the eve of the first anniversary of the findings from the Royal Commission.

The country’s peak consumer organisation for seniors conducted the research throughout the past year in the wake of the commission’s hearings and media coverage.

The report, titled ‘As close to home as possible’ found that if older Australians had to go into residential aged care, they wanted a place that was more like a home than an institution.

National Seniors Chief Executive and Director of Research, Professor John McCallum said respondents told the survey they wanted home cooked meals and accommodation that was home like and catered more for individual needs.

“The Royal Commission and the media coverage have had a major impact on older Australians’ attitudes toward residential aged care,” said Professor McCallum.

“Many of those people who responded are worried they will suffer the same neglect and abuse they have heard and read about in evidence tabled at the Royal Commission.

“However, they say one way to combat this fear is for more smaller, community minded facilities with home like features.”

Professor McCallum says another impediment to entering residential aged care is the lack of easy to navigate information when choosing a home to go into.

“The term ‘one-stop-shop’ was a common theme among respondents who have found the current system confusing and opaque,” he said.

One respondent summed up the feelings in the survey with this response:

“Unless we ask the correct questions, we are not getting the answers we need to make a decision.”

Other respondents said information given to them had too much “lawyer speak” and there needed to be more “plain English” explanations to help future aged care residents make the right choice.

Input from respondents helped National Seniors identify five needs for older Australians in getting the right information, guidance and assistance in deciding on which aged care home they would choose.

These are:

  • Information about specific facilities
  • Effective communication
  • Guidance to improve navigating the aged care system
  • Professional services to protect the welfare of care seekers
  • And more public communication on aged care planning

Professor McCallum said that many respondents also expressed scepticism about facilities that were for profit.

“A lot told us they saw profit and quality care as being incompatible even though there are plenty of for-profit homes which do a great job in looking after their residents.

“Conversely we have seen in the Royal Commission some not for profit homes which have let their residents down,” said Professor McCallum.

Respondents also suggested more not for profit homes would see fees come down.

Rising fees and costs was another major complaint respondents identified in the survey and was one of the 12 ‘ideals’ to come out of the survey on how to improve aged care.

Other ideals included:

  • Increased staff numbers and better pay
  • Diverse housing models
  • More opportunities to socialise for residents
  • And greater accountability to prevent more abuse
Read the report

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