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Older Australians need stronger consumer rights built into their age care, with residence calling for control over their home care, clear information about fees and quality and independent advice to help navigate the system, new research has found.
A study by the Consumer Policy Research Centre found 65 per cent of older Australians wanted more choice in their care while only 17.9 per cent wanted external bodies such as the government to allocate them.
Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia chief executive, Ian Yates, welcomed this further evidence supporting the need for stronger consumer rights in the delivery of aged care services in the homes of older Australians.
“What this tells us is that older Australians are sick of an aged care lottery where they are forced to choose a provider without the right information and chance determines the quality of the service they receive. This is simply not good enough,” Mr Yates said.
Home Care Packages (HCPs) are meant to be providing older Australians with assistance cleaning, gardening, transporting and nursing so they can stay comfortably in their own homes for longer, however new research finds complexity and opacity are major barriers to many older people obtaining support.
“Older Australians are being abandoned by the system, often unable to access the necessary support to live happier, healthier lives at home,” said CPRC CEO, Lauren Solomon.
Sixty per cent of older people surveyed required assistance to identify and choose an HCP provider. This hidden burden most commonly fell to already busy healthcare professionals (40 per cent) or family and friends (35 per cent).
“What we have here is a system that has not been built for the people trying to access it. That burden is simply being shifted to family, friends and healthcare professionals as people try to navigate this bewildering and broken system,” Ms Solomon said
While lack of supply of HCPs is clearly a big problem highlighted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (ACRC), Ms Solomon warned that pouring more packages into a broken system alone will not improve outcomes.
“We need to fix the way older people and their carers are accessing the system. It needs to be easier, fairer and a lot more transparent,” Ms Solomon concluded.
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