Feb 16, 2021

Only one in four aged care residents say their care needs are always met

Portrait of contented Hispanic senior woman
Photo credit: Johnny Greig -iStock

Only around one quarter of the people living in residential aged care feel their care needs are always met, according to survey results contained in a new research paper released by the royal commission.

The paper also reveals that Australians are willing to pay more tax if it will deliver high quality aged care services to all Australians.

Flinders University surveys of aged care recipients found that the share of people who feel their care needs are always met is only 24% in residential care, and 20% in home care.

The percentage of care recipients who feel their needs are at least ‘mostly’ met is also low, with only 58% of aged care residents and 50% of home care recipients say their needs are ‘mostly’ met.

Not receiving the care we should expect

Julie Ratcliffe, Professor of Health Economics in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University, told HelloCare there is “a relatively large proportion of eldelry Australians who are not receiving the quality of care that we should expect as a country.”

“There is a lot of work to be done to elevate the quality of aged care systems.”

The aged care system needs increased funding, and a larger workforce with the right skills and training, Ratcliffe said.

What is quality aged care?

The survey looked at six criteria that defines the quality of aged care services.

The criteria are: 

  • I am treated with respect and dignity,
  • I am supported to make my own decisions about the care and services I receive,
  • I receive care and support from aged care staff who have the appropriate skills and training,
  • I receive services and support for daily living that are important for my health and wellbeing,
  • I am supported to maintain my social relationships and connections with the community, and,
  • I am comfortable lodging complaints.

Aussies prepared to pay for better aged care

The surveys not only looked at the quality of aged care services, but also at whether Australians would be prepared to pay higher rates of tax for better aged care services.

The surveys found that taxpayers were, on average, willing to pay up to an additional 3.1% income tax per year to ensure that all Australians have access to high quality aged care.

New surveys developed to fill the gap

As part of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University surveyed more than 10,000 people, investigating what ‘quality of care in aged care’ means to Australians. 

The ‘Quality of Care Experience’ (QCE) questionnaire was developed to help define the characteristics of quality care from the perspective of older people and family carers.

The QCE has also been used by the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) to examine the care experience of more than 1,000 older people receiving aged care at home and in residential aged care. 

Prior to the royal commission, there was little in the way of information about how residents feel about the quality of the aged care services they receive. These surveys filled an important gap.

‘Baseline” data for future analysis

The surveys provide a set of ‘baseline data’ from which aged care services can be evaluated in the future, and future reform can be considered, the report states.

“One of the legacies of the Royal Commission is that Australia now has a substantially improved understanding of the quality of aged care services and the community’s expectations for higher quality care to be achieved in the future,” the report says.

Ratcliffe hopes the surveys will continue into the future. 

“We know that the royal commission is almost certainly going to recommend ongoing, routine monitoring and reporting of quality of care experience and quality of life and so i’m very hopeful that we will introduce in Australia a sector-wide system for reporting on quality of care experience and quality of life routinely.

“Hopefully that [data] will be publicly available in the future. That’s what I’m working towards,” she told HelloCare.

“At the moment we have a dearth of data of this nature and yet it’s so essential to Australians who are thinking about going into aged care or australians who are about to enter the home care system.

“We need this kind of data because it’s currently missing.

“The royal commission has done a really good job of providing that data, but let’s hope it’s not a one off. 

“The royal commission has started that process and I hope it will continue going forward.”

The royal commission’s final report is due on 26 February 2021, and will lay out the commissioners’ recommendations for fundamental reform of the Australian aged care system.

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  1. When a resident says they don’t feel that their needs are always met, do they actually mean needs, or are they talking about wants?

    We have three residents who make complaints daily because they had to wait their turn to be served a meal (on investigation they waited 7 minutes while 12 other residents were served ahead of them), or they were woken up too early (after asking the previous day to be added to the 6.30am list) or that their clothing is taking more than 24 hours to come back from laundry (after asking that their clothing NOT go in the dryer & be hung up on racks to dry), or, my personal favourite…after ringing the call bell & waiting 3 minutes a resident came out of her room to find the nurse…she found two of the nurses attending to another resident who had fallen over & bonked his head. Blood all over the place, one nurse on the floor comforting & one nurse on the phone to EMT (the other two nurses were attending to a double assist toilet). She then proceeded to SCREAM at the nurses for ignoring the call bell & then called her daughter claiming she was ignored for over an hour. The daughter believed her mother & placed a complaint with the ACQC . Thankfully we were able to pull the call bell logs to prove it was 3 minutes & the nurses had documented to outburst so when we were sent a please explain we were able to show that there was no neglect.

    These are all real complaints received from real residents & we get them All. THE. TIME. The residents forget that they are not then only person in the facility & expect staff to stop what they are doing to attend to their wants regardless of how important the task the nurse is already doing happens to be.

    I am not by any means claiming that all needs are being met or that there is not neglect going on, but residents & their families need to be realistic when it comes to requests.

  2. A very accurate comment from Nina.

    There should be some sort of law about half arsed stories like this.
    24% of residents are always satisfied, another 58% are usually satisfied.. a total of 82% which is very acceptable.
    Anyone that bothers to correct me saying it should be 100% needs not bother. You will never find a 100% satisfaction in anything. One of the issues that hysterical media has created is that some residents and their families have read so much rubbish that they now believe that they are hard done by when they actually are not.
    The federal government has failed its duty of care to provide adequate funding for the provision of safe and sustainable care for Australian elderly.

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