Less than a quarter of aged care residents’ needs always met, study finds

Less than a quarter of aged care residents feel their care needs are always met, new research from the Aged Care Royal Commission has revealed.

Undertaken by the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University, the study, Australia’s aged care system: the quality of care experience and community expectations, underlines the need for comprehensive aged care reform in Australia and highlights the public’s willingness to help achieve it.

Released today by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety ahead of its final report, due to be handed down next Friday, the study examined data collected from aged care recipients in a bid to improve understanding of the quality of aged care services, and measured the community’s expectations for higher quality in the future.

The project conducted a large-scale public survey and two surveys of older people receiving home care and residential aged care in Australia. The survey of people receiving care was assessed against key attributes such as being treated with respect and dignity, supported decision-making in care received, access to aged care staff with the appropriate skills and training, support to maintain social relationships and connections with community, and whether appropriate action is taken to address complaints.

Alarmingly, the research found less than a quarter (24%) of people living in residential aged care, and 20% of people receiving home care, felt their care needs were always met across all quality of care experience attributes. The share of aged care recipients who felt their needs were at least ‘mostly’ met across all key aspects of care was just 58% for residential care, and 50% for home care.

In a separate national public survey, researchers found Australians consider aged care a vital social service and view all quality of care attributes as important or very important, regardless of their understanding of the aged care system.

Most Australians also felt that aged care needs significant reform to become a high quality system and, importantly, were willing to fund the costs required to achieve it by paying more income tax to support aged care.

The report was prepared for the Aged Care Royal Commission and surveys provide an important set of baseline data from which to evaluate aged care reform and public expectations in the future, researchers say.

“Routine measurement and public reporting of quality of care experience, as well as quality of life, are essential to understanding the effectiveness of aged care in Australia and internationally,” the study states.

“By repeating the surveys at regular intervals, it will be possible to monitor the progress of Australian aged care, promote continuous quality improvement among service providers, and move more quickly to address problems within the system.”

Access the research papers here

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