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Lack of faith in aged care still haunts older Australians

Almost half of older people are reluctant to go into residential care due to fear of being mistreated or isolated, a new survey shows. 

Recent research from the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) asked close to 300 Victorians aged over 65 what they wanted from their healthcare.

The research found 76 per cent of participants wished to live independently in their own home for as long as possible, with only six per cent agreeing they had faith in the aged care system. 

“One of the key things older people want is to be heard,” said NARI Acting Executive Director, Associate Professor Frances Batchelor.

“Since the Aged Care Royal Commission’s report, we’ve heard a lot of negative stories,'' she said. It’s affected the public’s opinion. 

“We also have a lot of heterogeneity in older people – you can’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. They are experts in their own health care.”

Almost two-thirds of participants used the My Aged Care website but only six per cent said they felt the system worked well. 

Batchelor said this was largely due to confusion navigating the site, excessive paperwork and a lack of technology knowledge.

Older people are also hesitant to reach out to their GP.

“It’s a huge problem for older people because there’s a lack of access, continuity of care and confidence in GPs.

“Only half feel that their conditions are managed well by their GP, Batchelor said.

“It’s not necessarily the GP’s fault, it’s the system and access.” 

In fact, the majority of older people said they were not aware of the health services available to them. 

A lack of confidence in the aged care system placed an equally heavy strain on carers and support workers, the survey found.

Only 16 per cent of carers surveyed felt supported by their peers.

Most felt that their own health needs were overlooked. 

The average age of a primary carer in Australia is currently 55 and over, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 

Batchelor called for an improved collaboration between state and federal government to lift the burden on older people and their carers.

“We have to highlight where things go wrong, but we also acknowledge that not everything about aged care is bad. And we need as a whole, the federal and state government, to really look at turning that negative experience and aspects around to be positive.

“With this report we want to make sure that older people are heard and that there’s an increase in likelihood if that happens things will change for the better,” she said.

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One comment

  1. Anton Hutchinson

    There is little surprise that the elderly are reluctant to enter residential care after two plus years of royal commission reporting that wildly exaggerated the situation. The very report from the RC was inappropriately named “neglect” portraying the entire sector as greedy and corrupt, cutting staff and malnutrition rampant.

    Nothing could be more inaccurate, the media reported on the thousands of complaints from family,staff, residents and various “experts” on aged care. In reality the complaints equalled only a couple of percent of residents in care. Unfortunately even the residents and family that have always received excellent care have been convinced that they too are being neglected.

    The vast majority of facilities continue to provide fantastic care despite ten years of chronic underfunding from the federal government. They are the ones that have failed their duty of care to elderly nursing home residents!

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