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Half of older Victorians don't trust they will receive quality care in nursing homes

The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) has released a report that found many older Victorians do not have much faith that they will receive quality care and support in an aged care facility.

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This report found that nearly 50 percent of older Victorians do not trust nursing homes will provide quality care. [Source: Shutterstock]

Forty-eight percent of respondents to a NARI survey, which formed the basis of the report, believe that they cannot trust an aged care home to provide good care to them, with 41 percent believing that nursing homes are a depressing place to live.

The aim of the report, What do older people want from their healthcare?, was to find what older people wanted, needed and expected from the health and aged care sector and how to improve it.

It also found that over 75 percent of older Victorians had living independently at home for as long as possible as a top priority.

Acting Executive Director of NARI, Associate Professor Frances Batchelor, says, "It is concerning that so many older Victorians have a lack of faith in the aged care system, but unfortunately not surprising.

"In recent years we have seen shocking examples of poor quality care and neglect in aged care, and it has been important that these stories have come to light. However, there are also good examples where aged care providers are providing high quality care.

"For older people to view aged care more positively, we need to see living examples of outstanding care that is respectful, provides dignity and choice, and ensures person-centred care for health and wellbeing."

While the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety may have had an impact on the feeling of survey respondents, Associate Professor Batchelor says that the negative light on aged care was something NARI knew about prior to the Commission.

She says, "We believe that implementing good, evidence-based models of aged care will help to transform the aged care system, so that if aged care is required, people will experience a system that enables all individuals to age well regardless of whether at they live at home or in residential aged care."

The report also found that many older people in Victoria did not have a good understanding of the healthcare or aged care sector, with just under 50 percent of respondents saying they were not fully aware of what healthcare services were available to them.

Another 22 percent of older people stated that they did not have a good understanding of the My Aged Care system or how to navigate it.

Many older Victorians, 82 percent, highlighted in the survey that they wish to have an active role in managing their own health.

“One of the key things older people want is to be heard, and this report is an important avenue for their voices. If we listen, the challenges older people and their carers are facing can be planned for and addressed," says Associate Professor Batchelor.

Through this research, the NARI was able to identify key areas that older people want addressed when accessing health or aged care:

  • For their opinions to be heard when discussing their health and wellbeing
  • Choices to be built into their healthcare
  • More support to better identify, navigate and access healthcare services
  • Improved communication with service providers
  • An integrated healthcare system that is responsive to individual needs

One survey participant says they don't trust nursing homes due to the staffing issues in the sector.

"Not enough staff [in aged care], some carers don't have the empathy to care for the elderly, they don't adhere to the training… It is hard to watch your loved ones not being cared for properly," they said.

The transition and communication between hospitals and aged care facilities was also highlighted as a common issue for older people and their carers.

“The transition from hospital to [residential aged care] was [apalling] - communication was poor, (my) mother was left without a walking aid and the hospital expected the aged care to provide everything from when she was dropped off, while the information the hospital provided was incorrect as they didn't know her needs," says one survey participant.

NARI also found that many carers expressed fatigue due to lacking confidence in the system.

Less than 50 percent of carers believe that the caring role is a fulfilling experience and only 16 percent felt they were well supported by other carers and available services.

Over 60 percent of carers that were surveyed by NARI were over 65 years of age, which shows that these carers will likely already have or will start experiencing an increase in their own health needs.

"Older people and their carers want and deserve support that is informed by their needs, priorities, and expectations," says Associate Professor Batchelor.

"We hope this report, and the important findings within it, will help inform government and create a starting point for much needed change within the system."

The report was conducted by NARI on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health, with over 310 older Victorians and 60 carers of older people participating in the survey between April 2019 and February 2020.

To read the full report, head to the National Ageing Research Institute website.

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