Wide support for increased aged care funding: Study

Matt Woodley

24/07/2020 4:06:49 PM

New research shows Australians believe it is necessary to ensure universal access to high-quality aged care services in the future.

Older woman in wheelchair looking out window
Almost 60% of respondents said there should be a reallocation of public expenditure to aged care.

The report, based on a survey of 10,000 adults not currently using aged care services, found nearly 90% of those interviewed believed the Government should provide higher funding for aged care services.
Almost 60% of participants also agreed there should be a reallocation of public expenditure to aged care. On average, those people thought the share of public expenditure to aged care should be doubled.
Writing in The Conversation, researcher Professor Julie Ratcliffe said the survey shows Australians recognise the importance of additional investment in the sector, including to ensure all aged care staff have the skills and training needed to provide the highest standards of care.
‘It’s often said the true measure of any society is how well it treats its most vulnerable members. By this measure, Australia is falling woefully short,’ she said.
‘The aged care sector … has failed to keep up with community expectations and the changing needs of our older population.
‘Most Australians believe more public money should be devoted to providing higher-quality aged care – and many would even be willing to pay higher taxes to this end.’
The findings come as doctors sound a warning regarding aged care in Victoria, which is on the verge of ‘collapse’ due to restrictions placed on casual staff as a result of COVID-19, according to The Guardian.
It also follows research that found six in 10 aged care residents live in inadequately staffed facilities, and that only 1.3% are in facilities with ‘best practice’ staffing levels.
The majority of current income taxpayers surveyed said they would be willing to pay higher taxes to fund aged care adequately; on average, these respondents said they would be willing to pay an additional 1.4% income tax per year to ensure satisfactory quality aged care is delivered, and a further 1.7% per year (for a total rise of 3.1%) to achieve high quality aged care.
Most respondents, in particular those familiar with aged care in Australia, indicated they would also be willing to pay co-contributions (fees out of their own pocket) if they needed to access aged care services in the future.
‘Those who have experienced the aged care system through a close family member or friend receiving care would be willing to make higher co-contributions on average than those without current experience,’ Professor Radcliffe said.
‘An overwhelming majority of respondents [also] indicated they would prefer to remain living at home rather than enter a residential care facility if their health had deteriorated to the extent that they required an intensive level of care and support.’
Participants in the study felt the most important attributes of satisfactory quality aged care are:

  • being treated with respect and dignity
  • aged care staff having appropriate skills and training
  • residents receiving the health and wellbeing services they need
The research is the first of its kind internationally and was conducted for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. It ties in with a consultation paper released by the royal commission in June that sets out options for the future financing of aged care.
It also follows an interim report released by the royal commission last year, which called for a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia.
The most important attributes to elevate aged care from satisfactory to high/very high quality, as identified by respondents, are the ability to lodge complaints with confidence that appropriate action will be taken, followed by sufficient – and skilled and qualified – aged care staffing, and health and wellbeing services.
‘There is an urgent need for new investment in aged care infrastructure to deliver a uniformly skilled and trained workforce to accommodate the needs, expectations and preferences of increasing numbers of older people in our society,’ Professor Radcliffe said.
‘[These] findings provide an important and timely societal perspective with which to inform aged care policy and practice in Australia and in other countries which share similar values, aspirations and circumstances.’
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A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   28/07/2020 11:40:02 PM

I worked in Aged Care Facilities from 1990. I have watched the sector become debased, devalued & defunded. My parents died in care.
The sector was starved of resources & funds & was forced to use the cheapest over the most appropriate. The nurses left, ancillary staff left & the PCAs got minimal training or ongoing education.
GPs were accused of rorting when they tried to provide even basic acceptable care then loaded down with ridiculous burdens of paper work. Heaven help them if they attempted to even bulk bill for their time.
When the system failed, the staff on duty were vilified .
The persons RESPONSIBLE were those who deliberately ignored the needs of the sector.
Now with the blowtorch of publicity to the belly of politicians there is finally something.
About time-keep it up.