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High quality aged care needed to meet Australians’ expectations

A new research paper by the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University highlights the need for comprehensive change in aged care and the Australian community’s strong commitment to achieve it.

The research paper was published today by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety ahead of its Final Report, due by 26 February 2021. The Final Report will set out the Royal Commissioners’ recommendations for fundamental reform of aged care.

The Flinders University research uses data from three national surveys conducted for the Royal Commission during 2020. The findings are presented in Research Paper 20 – Australia’s aged care system: the quality of care experience and community expectations.

Flinders University found, using data collected from aged care recipients, that the share of people who feel their care needs are always met is only 24% in residential care, and only 20% in home care. These results are for all key aspects of care, including whether care recipients feel appropriate action is taken to address their complaints. The share of care recipients who feel their needs are at least ‘mostly’ met across all key aspects of care was just 58% for residential care and 50% for home care.

In a separate survey, the authors found most Australian adults view aged care as a vital social service, with all key aspects of care considered important or very important by the vast majority. People with a greater understanding of aged care tend to have slightly greater appreciation of the importance of all aspects of care. Females and older people are also the most likely to consider all aspects of care to be important or very important. There were only small differences between the views of people born in Australia and those born in other countries.

The community’s strong desire for older people to be cared for appropriately was also reflected by the majority of current taxpayers agreeing they would be willing to pay more to support aged care. These taxpayers were, on average, willing to pay up to an additional 3.1% income tax per year to ensure all Australians have access to high quality aged care.

In addition to showing the need for change and Australians’ commitment to achieve it, the surveys delivered a set of baseline data from which to evaluate aged care reform and public expectations in the future.

The research paper was prepared for the information of the Royal Commissioners and the public. Any views expressed in the paper are not necessarily the views of the Commissioners. To read the Royal Commission’s research papers, please visit the publications page.

For interviews with Professor Julie Ratcliffe, one of the authors of Research Paper 20, please contact Flinders University Media on 0434 101 516 or newsdesk@flinders.edu.au.