Community expectations gap in aged care perceptions: Royal Commission studies

Australians have little knowledge of the aged care system, believe they are lonely and unhappy places, and think it should be the responsibility of government to pay for services, surveys for the Royal Commission into Aged Care has found.

Roy Morgan’s What Australians Think of Ageing and Aged Care, published yesterday, revealed 88 per cent of respondents said agreed people were often lonely and only 23 per cent agreed people were happy.

The survey of more than 10,000 Australians wanted to determine community attitudes to older Australians, their knowledge and perceptions of aged care, and their experience, expectations and preferences for older age.

It revealed the more people had interacted with the sector, the less likely their views were to be negative.

Royal Commissioners, Tony Pagone, QC, and Lynelle Briggs said the research confirmed the aged care system needed to reform to meet community expectations.

“Australians want the Government and community to assist older people to live well in their own homes for as long as possible,” they said in a statement.

“The Royal Commission has been investigating how to achieve that.”

Respondents were more positive about the care and services available within aged care, over the social elements.

Most agreed the accommodation was comfortable and well-maintained (73 per cent), that people had timely access to medical care (66 per cent) and people were safe (65 per cent).

But there were divided views about whether residents received the care they needed for daily activities, or whether they were respected.

The vexed question of who should pay for aged care and support services also proved divisive, and based on little knowledge of the current reality.

Almost half of people asked also expressed that government should pay for services such as help with shopping, cooking and cleaning, to allow them to stay in their own homes.

More than half believed government should pay for higher-care services.

“Currently the government funds approximately 78 per cent of all aged care services,” the report said.

“Very few people gave an answer close to this and only 5 per cent were within [plus or minus two] percentage points.

“Around one-fifth of adults stated they did not know what the Government share is. A large majority of those who provided an estimate thought the Government share was 60% or under.”

A separate detailed qualitative study by Ipsos, They look after you, you look after them: Community attitudes to ageing and aged care, found similar negative perceptions of care.

The one-on-one interviews and small-group chats revealed many descriptions residential care was “depressing, bleak and scary places that felt clinical and were sometimes overcrowded”.

The discussions also revealed a low level of awareness about regulation, oversight and funding of aged care.

The studies revealed Australians generally held positive views about older Australians, especially in some migrant communities.

Ageing was also viewed as less about the year number but an individual’s attitudes and behaviours.


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