Aged care faltering in Australia: Report

According to National Seniors Australia, the countries’ aged-care system is riddled with problems and will become unsustainable unless urgent reform is undertaken. In its report “The Future of Aged Care in Australia”, the current system of aged care is evaluated. The report says that there are staffing and bed shortages that are crumbling under financial pressures and are unable to meet the future demands of an ageing population. The report compiled for the lobby group by Access Economics says policymakers must implement viable funding alternatives to sustain the system.

According to National Seniors chief executive Michael O'Neil, “In the past five years the ratio of more qualified to less qualified staff has dropped and the ratio of residents to staff has increased… Not only do nurses get paid $300 a week less in aged care, but when the system is run as a business, cost-cutting comes in the way of staffing reductions… This means consumers aren't getting the quantity or quality of care they should…They're waiting longer and longer for help - either in nursing home beds or at home - that just isn't there…This situation is unacceptable in a country as advanced and as wealthy as Australia.” He hoped the Gillard government's inclusion of mental health in the Aged Care portfolio was not a sign that the needs of older Australians were being downgraded.

Access Economics has suggested four alternative funding models for supporting aged care, including healthy ageing saving accounts and long-term care insurance. Mr. O'Neill says the Government now needs to lead a debate on what model will be sustainable into the future. “We're looking for the new minister to take a strong lead in this issue and to provide some direction for the sector…For the Government to increase the priority that it attaches to aged care and recognizing the importance of the long-term - if we don't get it right now, then that baby boomer bubble that's coming forward into aged care will provide enormous problems in the future,” he said.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

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Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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