Australians willing to pay extra tax to reach higher standards in quality aged care

The majority of Australians believe more federal government funding should be allocated to achieve higher quality aged care and say they would be willing to pay extra tax to ensure the current deficient system reaches excellent standards, a landmark study conducted for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has revealed.

Undertaken by Flinders University, the study, Research Paper 6 – Australia’s aged care system: assessing the views and preferences of the general public for quality of care and future funding surveyed more than 10,000 Australian adults aged 18-91 not currently receiving aged care services on their views and preferences regarding the quality of aged care and the future funding of the sector.

Key findings show almost 90% of survey respondents believe the government should provide higher funding for aged care services, while almost 60% agreed that the amount of public expenditure to aged care should be doubled.

The report notes that the Australian government currently allocated 4% of income tax collected from taxpayers to aged care and the majority of respondents felt it should be doubled to about 8% in order to achieve a high quality aged care system.

Most Australians indicated they would be willing to support aged care quality improvements by paying more income tax, with those surveyed happy to fork out an extra 1.4% per year on average to ensure elderly Australians have access to a satisfactory level of care and an additional 3.1% per year to make sure all Australians have access to a high level of quality aged care.

Survey participants said they would be willing to make co-contribution payments if they needed to access aged care services in the future, with over 70% of people willing to pay a larger co-contribution to receive the support they need to remain living at home rather than entering a nursing home.
The average co-contribution amount respondents were willing to pay to avoid moving into residential aged care was $184 per week.

When asked about the success of Australia’s current aged care sector in achieving quality aged care, survey respondents felt there are current deficiencies and work needs to be done to elevate the aged care system to one which would be considered high quality.

Study participants listed the most important attributes of satisfactory quality aged care as being treated with respect and dignity, aged care staff having appropriate skills and training, and receiving the health and wellbeing services they need.

The most important attributes needed to elevate from satisfactory to high/very high quality were considered the ability to lodge complaints with confidence knowing appropriate action will be taken, followed by sufficient, skilled and qualified aged care staff, and adequate health and wellbeing services.

“These findings provide an important and timely societal perspective with which to inform aged care policy and practice in Australia and in other countries

which share similar values, aspirations and circumstances,” the report states.
Royal Commissioners Tony Pagone QC and Lynelle Briggs AO said the latest research confirmed Australians want high quality aged care to be delivered and believe more funding is part of the solution.

“The Royal Commission’s interim report found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required,” Commissioners said.

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