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New research shows Australian communities wants to change aged care

A new research paper from the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University, commissioned by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, has highlighted the comprehensive change needed in aged care as well as the Australian communities strong commitment to achieving this.

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The research found that within the Australian community there is a strong desire for older people to receive appropriate, quality care. [Source: iStock]

The research paper, Australia’s aged care system: the quality of care experience and community expectations, utilised data from three national surveys conducted by the Commission in 2020.

Professor Julie Ratcliffe, one Author of the paper and Professor of Health Economics and Matthew Flinders Fellow at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University, says the new report describes a framework for making direct comparisons of older people's experience of care with the expectations of the general public.

"We have quantified the gap in unmet needs for older people receiving aged care services and what the general public feels about that unmet need," explains Professor Ratcliffe.

"Ie that most members of the general public agree that there is a quality of care gap that needs to be addressed to meet general public expectations for the standards of quality of care that Australia's aged care system should provide in the future.

"The report findings provide a set of baseline data from which we can track how aged care reforms impact upon the quality of aged care received by older Australians (from their own perspective) and how that equates with the expectations of the general public about what the system should be delivering.

"The report findings will support the Royal Commission's final report by demonstrating that this type of quality assessment exercise is possible and it could, and indeed should, be conducted routinely along with quality of life assessments to place older people’s perspectives at the heart of quality assessment processes in aged care and to demonstrate public accountability and transparency."

Within the Australian community there is a strong desire for older people to receive appropriate care, the study found, and a majority of taxpayers agreed that they were willing to pay more to support quality aged care. 

On average, taxpayers were willing to pay up to 3.1 percent income tax per year to ensure all older Australians have access to high quality aged care.

Authors noted that they found the results of the national survey quite alarming, especially around how older recipients view their quality of care.

In the conclusion of the research, authors state, "While views vary within the community about exactly what should be considered to be ‘satisfactory’ care and what the additional requirements are for ‘high’ or ‘very high’ quality care, the state of aged care in Australia is undeniably alarming."

Flinders University research revealed that the number of older people who feel their care needs are always met by their aged care service is only 24 percent in residential care and 20 percent in home care.

These research results covered all key aspects of care, including if care recipients feel appropriate action is taken to address any complaints they have with their care. 

Care recipients who felt their needs were at least 'mostly' met on key aspects of care was 58 percent for residential care clients and 50 percent for home care clients.

In a separate survey, the authors found most Australian adults view aged care as a vital social service with all key areas of aged care considered important.

Additionally, people who understand the aged care system also tend to have a greater appreciation for the importance of all aspects of care, along with females and older people.

The researchers add that routine measurement and public reporting of quality of care experiences, including quality of life, needs to continue as it showcases how effective aged care is in Australia and internationally.

This research paper was released ahead of the Royal Commission's Final Report that is due by 26 February and comes a day after the launch of a new industry alliance consisting of aged care organisations and industry peak bodies. 

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration (AAAC) is demanding huge industry reform and additional funds from the Federal Government, however, these calls have been met with criticism from consumer groups about the lack of consumer representation in the alliance.

To read the full research paper, visit the Aged Care Royal Commission website.

The information in this research paper was prepared for the Commissioners and the public. Any views expressed in the paper are not necessarily the views of the Commissioners.

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