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Research shows need and public support for aged-care reform

Monday 22, Feb 2021

Research by Flinders University has highlighted the need for comprehensive change in aged care. It comes in the lead-up to the Royal Commission into Aged Care and Safety’s Final Report on 26 February 2021, due to detail the Royal Commissioners’ recommendations for fundamental reform of aged care.

Experts at Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute used previous data collected from aged-care recipients, revealing that only 24% of people in residential care and 20% in home care felt their needs are always met. Additionally, the share of care recipients who felt their needs were at least ‘mostly’ met across all key aspects were 58% for residential care and 50% for home care.

The research findings are for all key aspects of care, including whether care recipients feel appropriate action is taken to address their complaints. The new study, led by Professor Julie Ratcliffe, used data from three national surveys conducted in 2020 for the Royal Commission. The findings are presented in ‘Research Paper 20 — Australia’s aged care system: the quality of care experience and community expectations’.

A separate survey revealed that most Australians 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 tended to have a greater appreciation of the importance of all aspects of care. Females and older people were also the most likely to consider all aspects of care to be important or very important. The study recorded small differences between the views of people born in Australia and those born in other countries.

The study revealed that a majority of current taxpayers are willing to pay more to support aged care, indicating the community’s strong desire for older people to be cared for appropriately. 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. Alongside showing the need for change and Australians’ commitment to achieve it, the surveys provide 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 Royal Commissioners and the public; the Royal Commission’s research papers can be accessed on the publications page of its website.

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