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Providing for quality care in later life is a key concern of Australians as they age. In a survey of 801 Australians aged 50 and over conducted by National Seniors Australia earlier this year, 74% of respondents said aged care was an extremely important issue and 14% said aged care policies would influence who they voted for in the 2010 federal election.

Australians want to know that they will be able to have affordable quality care in later life. Aged care is an integral and growing component of the healthcare system. It will be more pronounced with the ageing of our population.

The current outlook is dominated by conflicting claims around the adequacy of funding levels for aged care, with providers reporting low returns, an exodus of qualified staff and difficulties maintaining infrastructure investment.

According to Treasury, Australian government spending on aged care will more than double relative to national income between 2010 and 2050. National Seniors believes there is a need for decisive action including more innovative policy responses to ensure the provision of accessible and sustainable high quality care in the future.

This would include consideration of alternate funding models and the integration of aged care within the broader health and hospital system. These are important public issues, requiring informed debate and policy planning. To that end, National Seniors commissioned a report from Access Economics on the future of aged care in Australia.

The research approach included both a summary of evidence from the literature as well as results of an extensive quantitative survey to assess consumer preferences and needs for aged care in coming decades.

The report covers current issues in aged care such as quality of care, infrastructure requirements and alternative models of funding. 

What are some of the key messages to emerge from the research? 

1. The current system is not working well, with quality of care perceived as declining over the last five years. As demand is growing rapidly, tinkering with the system is not a long-term answer. 

2. Significant investment in aged care is needed, particularly for new facilities and in developing a skilled workforce to deliver age care. The current system is not sustainable without higher tax. 

3. We need to find new ways of financing aged care. A survey of more than 3,200 seniors found that many people would be prepared to pay for high quality aged care, while wanting a safety net for those who cannot afford to pay.

The report has been reproduced here in full to help stimulate public debate about alternatives to the current model of aged care.

To download the full report, please complete and submit the form below.

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