Interesting survey response to what Australians think about ageing

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety engaged Roy Morgan to conduct a national opinion survey of 10,000 Australian adults. 

The survey asked for their views about older Australians, the current aged care system, and what they would want should they need aged care themselves. 

Adults overwhelmingly have a positive attitude towards people aged over 70. Over 90 per cent agreed that older Australians are valuable to society due to their work, knowledge and experience and time they spend helping family and volunteering. 

Almost all respondents also rejected negative attitudes towards older people and agreed that society has an obligation to look after older people and care for them. 

Nearly half believe that the Government should be most responsible for paying for support services needed by older people to continue living independently in their own homes, such as help with shopping, cooking, cleaning, and attending medical appointments. And more than half think the Government should be most responsible for paying for the higher-level care services when needed – help with dressing, eating, toileting and nursing care. 

Even those people who see the older person, their family or friends as most responsible for payment, still considered the Government as second most responsible. 

Over 55 per cent of people contact family or close friends, who are receiving support, at home at least once a week, however only 37 per cent visit that often. Old people living in residential aged facilities are contacted weekly 32 per cent of the time and 24 per cent receive weekly visits. 

Overall, the community’s perception of life in residential aged care is negative. They think the residents are often lonely, do not have control over their lives and are not happy, but have access to medical care and are safe in comfortable, well maintained accommodation. 

Most adults had visited a residential aged care facility at least once. If so they have slightly more positive perceptions than those who had never visited. 

Few people were well informed about many aspects of the aged care system. Only nine per cent were aware of My Aged Care and only four per cent knew of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the industry regulator). 

Most people thought the Government’s contribution towards aged care was 60 per cent or less, whereas it is actually nearly 80 per cent. 

Older Australians who need support to live independently prefer that family and friends provide it. If they need higher-level assistance such as help dressing, eating, toileting and nursing care they prefer aged care service providers. In practice aged care service providers – businesses and non-profit organisations – provide most of the available support.

Most (80 per cent) of older Australians want to remain in their own home even if they need support or care. Around 11-12 per cent wish to downsize from their current house to a smaller dwelling and six per cent want to move nearer to family or friends. 

Only 25 per cent would prefer to live in a residential aged care facility if they need care. 

Older Australians said the most important service was home cleaning followed by help with personal hygiene (showering, dressing and going to the toilet) and medical services (access to medical professionals such as GPs, dentists, physiotherapists and podiatrists, and help with medication and nursing care). 

The services least likely to be seen as important were transport, day centres to socialise and exercise in, and help with meal preparation.

It seems that public support for aged care is strong, but the government needs to provide more funds for in-home care. Where possible this provides a cheaper and preferred alternative to residential care.  

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Frank Smith was trained as an agricultural scientist in the UK, moving to WA in 1974 and shortly afterwards began lecturing at WAIT (now Curtin University) in soils and agronomy. In 1979 he joined the Agriculture Protection Board in charge of publications and media relations, studying part time for a degree in Journalism. In 1992 he spent a year as a visiting professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Later he ran a small publication company with his wife Mary-Helen. He then began freelance writing, editing and book indexing. He has written articles for more than 40 magazines in four continents and indexed more than 20 books. In 2007 he started writing for Have a Go News and gradually reduced his writing for other publications. He later took over the subediting, ensuring Have a Go News is consistent in style and highly readable. He and Mary-Helen live in a passive solar home in the Perth Hills with a varying collection of quendas and native birds.