Seniors have mixed views of aged care delivered at home

A major report by National Seniors Australia released today found most seniors receiving aged care at home thought workers treated them with respect, met their personal care and support needs, and were well trained.

However, about 50 per cent of people qualified their positive views by saying better coordination between home care and health services was required, along with improvements to the Consumer Directed Care system.

The report, Accentuating the positive: consumer experiences of aged care at home, was commissioned by the Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce and asked consumers for their opinions of the aged care services offered in their homes.

Taskforce Chair Professor John Pollaers said the report findings would help build a comprehensive and sustainable Workforce Strategy for the industry, and in doing so, improve the quality of life of aged care consumers.

“In a time of change, listening to expressions of both positive and negative views on home support and home care is the key to creating better services in the future,” Prof. Pollaers said.

“The consumer voice needs to be the driver for changes in the industry as ‘ageing in place’ becomes increasingly the norm. It is important elderly Australians are able to live well and feel empowered.”

The report author, Nationals Seniors Australia Research Director Professor John McCallum, said while there was strong agreement among respondents that aged care workers treat the household with respect, know what they are doing and are well trained, it was also important to listen to negative views to target areas for improvement.

“People complained about services being delivered at times or in ways that were inconvenient to the client; a lack of continuity of care for dementia patients; and poor training for dementia care,” Prof. McCallum said.

“They also expressed frustration caused by Workplace Health and Safety constraints on cleaning, and poor cleaning services generally; waiting too long to be assessed, and having to accept a lower level package until a higher one became available; poor communication from providers; and poor administration of services generally.”

Prof. McCallum said action was needed to address these deficiencies, especially because rapid growth was expected in demand for aged care services delivered at home. This was a positive trend because consumers preferred to stay in their own homes rather than go into residential care.

Prof. McCallum said another major concern was that more than 40 per cent of family members and others providing unpaid care said their health was affected by their caring duties.

They had multiple issues, including the need for better access to respite care; opportunities for training; physical health impacts; stress, mental exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed; loss of income; and difficulties coping with family dynamics.

“People do this caring with love but it shouldn’t make them sick or in need of care themselves,” Prof. McCallum said.

“We need to recognise that this family care workforce is a major part of the service system and support them properly.”

The report stemmed from a National Seniors Australia national survey of more than 4,500 Australians aged over 50, interviews with aged care clients and their care providers in major city, rural and remote locations, and consumer stories of their journey in aged care, from care at home to nursing home admission.

Professor McCallum said several training initiatives could be considered to improve outcomes, including training for informal carers, mandated courses and qualifications for personal care workers and care managers, increased access to short courses for ongoing skills development, and more targeted on-the-job training.

“What’s needed is to turn the negatives into positives with better training and management. This is a high priority because home delivered services are the future of aged care. We need to listen to consumers, address the negatives and get this right now.”

The full report can be found here

Professor John McCallum and Professor John Pollaers are available for interview.Media contact: Lynda Schekoske 0488 047 380 or 07 3233 9134. No. 2018/017

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