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Older Australians’ hopes and fears for aged care

Older Australians’ hopes and fears for aged care

27 February 2022
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This report presents the results of all three National Seniors’ recent survey questions about aged care, from NSSS-9 and the follow-up survey. The Royal Commission made it clear that there are serious problems to be addressed in the Australian aged care system, and similarly, many of our survey respondents shared stories of neglect and abuse in residential aged care that they had witnessed as care recipients, staff, or family and friends of people in care. We acknowledge the grief, anger, and pain these experiences must have entailed and we join those who have suffered in calling for urgent change. However, to avoid merely treading the same ground as the Royal Commission and media reports, we here also highlight less explored topics that equally need urgent attention.

Summary

Executive Summary

In a recent survey, National Seniors Australia asked older Australians to answer three questions about residential aged care:

Have the reports of neglect and abuse in the aged care system affected your aged care planning or decisions? (Q1)

In your view, how could residential age care change to make it a better and more desirable option for those who need it? (Q2)

What type of guidance, assistance and information do you think should be easily available for people when they need residential age care? (Q3)

Just under half (49%) of the 5166 people surveyed for Q1 said the reports of neglect and abuse had affected their aged care planning or decisions.

The reports had prompted some people to decide never to enter residential aged care, for others to be more cautious about it, and for still others to take pragmatic steps to ensure they would enter a good quality residential facility when the time came. Over 70 people commented that they would prefer death rather than enter residential aged care.

Of those who said the reports of neglect and abuse had not affected their plans, some said they had no effect because their personal or professional experiences with the aged care system had already coloured their views. In some cases, those prior experiences had instilled negative views of the system. But in other cases, their prior experiences had been very positive, and they believed the reports of neglect and abuse unfairly emphasised the negative. Some respondents also had faith that current improvement processes would fix the problems by the time they needed aged care.

Survey questions Q2 and Q3 were asked to a subset of those surveyed for Q1, and each was answered by between 550 and 600 people.
Those who answered Q2 offered a huge range of suggestions for how residential aged care could best meet their ideals, including improvements to fees and profit arrangements, geographic placement of facilities, accommodation structures and models, care delivery models, living quarters, food, activities, staff pay and conditions, facility culture, and management accountability.
A common sentiment woven throughout responses to Q2 was that people want to live in a residential facility that is as close to home as possible. In other words, they want life in aged care to resemble life before aged care in every aspect, to the extent that that can be achieved.

Older Australians’ hopes and fears for aged care

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National Seniors is a not-for-profit membership and advocacy organisation that gives older Australians – working and retired – a strong national voice. We tackle issues such as age discrimination, mature age employment, the Age Pension, social inclusion, cost of living concerns and more.

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