Affordable housing, adequate health services and simply being able to keep their pet are some of the primary concerns identified by people aged over 50 in a recent report published by COTA NSW.
More than 300 people were interviewed for COTA NSW’s 2018 engagement report, which looks at what matters to seniors across five broad themes – health, employment, housing, transport, and social inclusion.
The findings, broken down by electorate, highlight suitable housing, cost of living, meaningful work opportunities, being able to get around in the community and improved communication with clinical staff as key issues.
COTA NSW CEO Meagan Lawson said the information gathered provides invaluable insight for aged care providers, as well as policy makers in the lead up to state and commonwealth elections.
“One of the common themes, across the whole state, was the ability to be heard and have a meaningful say in all areas of their lives. I think there is a real message in that for aged care providers – listening to your customers is really important – it’s the most basic tenant of person-centred care.”
“Older people just aren’t being listened to – but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to say,” Ms Lawson said.
A key common issue across all the state-wide consultations was the method by which participants wished to receive or seek information about the services and activities available in their communities.
“There was a general frustration that in many instances information is solely located online. Attendees felt that this is excluding, in particular for those without internet access or who did not feel technologically proficient in this space. This feedback was particularly common in the older 75+ participants,” Ms Lawson said.
The research also found the affordability and availability of appropriate group exercise classes was a hinderance to participating in physical activity.
“In many instances, there were a number of subsidised or free exercise groups available in their suburbs or towns, but people were not aware of them,” Ms Lawson said.
“The importance of access to mental health services for older people was also emphasised, with greater investment in preventative programs to support people experiencing loneliness and social isolation.”
Ms Lawson said a consistent theme for participants across many of the groups is that their greatest impediment is the lack of footpaths and/or poor footpath maintenance.
“In some locations where there are no footpaths, people are forced to walk on the roads but we then heard examples of members of the public who use wheel chairs or scooters that fell out onto the road due to the steepness of the ramps.”
“Many of the issues raised in our consultations can be easily addressed at the community level, through collaboration with government, council and business. It is our hope that next year at least some of these issues are no longer a problem,” Ms Lawson said.