A Consumer Focus
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A Consumer Focus

In common with other developed countries Australia has an ageing population; by 2066 it is estimated there will be 10 million people aged 65 and over and 2.2 million people aged 85 and over. [1] What does this mean for the aged care industry? Currently the Australian aged care system is the subject of intensive review and reform, and changes are afoot to ensure the system is sustainable and affordable, and offers choice and flexibility to those who use the system. [2]

Consumer directed care (CDC) is the beginning of changes that put the consumer in the driving seat. CDC is a model of service delivery, where consumers are supported to set goals, determine the level of ongoing involvement that they wish to have, and make decisions relating to their own care. [3] The change commenced with the Home Care Packages Programme and will over time relate to any setting where aged care and services are delivered.

Consumer surveys show that people want to stay as independent as possible and reside in their home where they have connections to family and friends. [4] As more baby boomers enter the industry, they will want more say in what services are delivered, by whom, when and where.

The idea of services only being delivered in a residential setting is long past, and people are more focused on how well they will live their lives, rather than considering how they might spend their remaining days. A wellness and reablement focus has emerged where optimising a person’s physical and mental health and wellbeing is linked to reablement which, where necessary, helps people to regain skills for daily living that have been lost due to deterioration in health or advancing frailty. [5]

To remain world class, the Government and the industry are looking at ways to ensure the system is sustainable, encouraging investment into the industry, and building on infrastructure and human resources. People want to be cared for by those who have the right attitude and attributes to work with older people and have the appropriate skills to undertake the work required. [6]

Such a system must be financially viable and affordable, and contributions from those who can afford to pay for care and services are an important part of ensuring sustainability. However, many factors are considered when people apply to access government-subsidised services. [7]

Consumers are very interested in knowing what the consumer experience is when people access aged care and services and want to ensure their quality of life (QoL) is maintained. The industry has responded by introducing a range of quality measures (called indicators) and is currently trialling a range of consumer experience and QoL measures. These can be used to provide consumers with transparent, comparable information about the quality of care and services. It will also deliver service providers with robust, valid data to measure and monitor their performance and to support continuous quality improvement. [8]

Page updated 20 June 2019

  • References

  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Population Projections, Australia, 2017 (base) - 2066 [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2019 Apr 17]; ABS cat. no. 3222.0.
  2. Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Navigating the maze: an overview of Australia's current aged care system - Background Paper 1. Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety; 2019 Feb.
  3. Australian Government Department of Health. What is consumer directed care? In: Care MA, editor. 2018.
  4. Wells Y, Hillel S, Hunter N, Clune S, Johnstone E, Quintanilla B. Literature review on choice and quality in home-based and community-based aged care. Report for the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency (1.12MB pdf). Melbourne: La Trobe university; 2018.
  5. Lifecare Homecare. A New Model for Community Care - Wellness and Reablement [Internet]. 2015 Aug 27 [cited 2019 Apr 24].
  6. Leading Age Services Australia (LASA). Policy Statement: Workforce (6.26MB pdf). Kingston (ACT): LASA; 2015 Aug.
  7. Australian Government Department of Health, My Aged Care. Costs [Internet]. 2018 [updated 2018 Apr 23; cited 2019 Apr 24].
  8. Australian Government Department of Health. About the National Aged Care Quality Indicator Program [Internet]. 2019 [updated 2019 Mar 8; cited 2019 Apr 24].