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Royal commission releases national survey findings

Roy Morgan has released its survey on Australians’ attitudes towards older people and residential aged care, conducted on behalf of the aged care royal commission.

The market research company quizzed more than 10,500 people between October and January.

The vast majority of people, more than 90 per cent, have great respect for their elders and believe they make an important contribution to society through their work, knowledge, experience and efforts in volunteering.

Most Australians believe the community has an obligation to care for their older friends and relatives, with nearly half agreeing the government ought to pay for basic support services to allow older people to remain at home.

Only 25 per cent of people aged 70 and older would themselves want to go into an aged care facility if they ever needed care or support, with most preferring basic help from family and friends to keep living at home.

The survey found Australians have a very negative attitude towards residential care.

Though most people believed residents lived in safe, comfortable accommodation with timely access to medical care they also think residents are lonely, unhappy and have little control over their lives.

About half consider the food is poor quality and people were split over whether residents received the help they needed for personal care, such as showering and using the bathroom.

Most were also unsure if residents were treated with respect and had enough daily activities to keep them entertained.

Despite this just six per cent of people who had a friend or family member in a facility contacted them daily with only a quarter of people phoning them once a week.

A third said they called or visited less than once a month while one in five never visit.

People aged 70 and over were most likely to cut off contact and never visit, possibly highlighting difficulties with transport and use of technology by older Australians, the survey found.

The most frequent visitors had highest perception of the facilities overall however they still viewed residential care negatively and believed residents were lonely.

Young LGBTQ people and those on income support were most worried about living in an aged care facility when they’re older and only 60 per cent believed they would have good physical health.

Young people with disabilities who already live in care facilities had a very critical perception of their care.

Roy Morgan expressed surprise that despite ongoing media coverage of problems within aged care only four per cent of people said they would report their issues to the royal commission, despite it being the national regulator.

They were more likely to approach the manager, then a government department or ombudsman with younger people the least likely to know where to go, relying on the internet to search for help.

And most people remain unaware of how much aged care is government-funded, with less than five per cent guessing within the correct amount of 78 per cent and most unsure or thinking it was below 60 per cent or less.

People on low incomes of $40,000 a year or less were more likely to think the government should chip in more to support older Australians living at home.

Whereas older Australians in the highest income brackets, who would be able to afford to pay for their own care, believed it was their responsibility.

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