Aged care report says you want to pay more

Article published 13 December 2023

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There are two things about aged care and nursing homes people want. One is more money. Two, they never want to go into them.

A while ago CPSA News invited readers to participate in a large annual survey by aged care consultancy firm Catalyst.

The Catalyst Report – Residential Aged Care insights collected responses from over 5,400 respondents to understand Australian perceptions of aged care.

More funding needed, says survey

The report notes that most Australians agree that additional funding is required to improve aged care, including via increased tax and user charges.

This will be music to the ears of nursing homeowners and operators, for whom the Catalyst report is produced.

Soon we will find out what the Aged Care Taskforce, which has been looking at ways of getting more money out of people using aged care, will say. Its report is imminent, according to the Financial Review, which also says: “The Albanese government is softening up voters for increased aged care fees for those who can afford it by citing polling that claims people are eager to pay up to 40 per cent of the cost”.

That polling wouldn’t include The Catalyst Report – Residential Aged Care insights, would it?

The (im)popularity of nursing homes

Apart from people’s eagerness to pay more for aged care, the report found – not surprisingly – that the majority of Australians would prefer to stay at home as long as possible, potentially supported by home care.

One in five (20 per cent) say they would not consider aged care under any circumstances. That’s a big number.

Dementia is the most likely trigger for considering a nursing home for the remaining 80 per cent.

50 per cent accept a nursing home may be required because of a serious medical event like a stroke. This also means 50 per cent of respondents don’t accept this, again a big number.

Not surprisingly given these percentages, the report notes that aged care has significant reputational problems, although the report says: “One gentleman gave his views on the industry’s conundrum: Aged care seems to have a bad reputation. Possibly a service running smoothly is not newsworthy”.

CPSA’s comment is that this gentleman would be up against the Aged Care Royal Commission’s final report.

When respondents were asked to describe the pros and cons of aged care, 44 per cent of comments fell into the positive column, while 56 per cent were negative.

Pessimistic views included ‘expensive’, ‘loneliness’, ‘bad food’, and ‘boredom’. Favourable words like ‘care’, ‘support’, ‘activities’ and ‘security’ are mentioned as frequently as benefits.

Strong ratings were given for ‘feeling of safety’, ‘caring staff’, ‘pleasant environment’ and ‘residents treated with respect’. Lower ratings were received for ‘food quality’ and ‘lifestyle programs/activities’.

The report notes but can’t explain why respondents whose family members were currently in care, were significantly more positive than those whose parents used to be in care.

CPSA’s (subjective) comment is that one way of getting through a difficult phase like having a partner or parent in a nursing home is to screen out negative feelings. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not there.

On the whole, the report leaves you with a feeling that, while Australians accept more money needs to flow into aged care, they would rather stay out of nursing homes.

In fact, a fair few, 20 per cent, would rather die, and 50 per cent would rather battle on at home even when clinically impossible.

Also read:
Nursing home bond or daily charges?
Home Care Packages: what you can and what you can’t get
Home care merger: delayed to the never-never

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