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Aged care divides opinion



The inaugural BankWest and Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA) Annual Aged Care Index paints a picture of a relatively ‘immature’ sector that is generally misunderstood.

The comprehensive report includes results from a survey of over 300 senior industry executives along with the findings of a questionnaire conducted among members of the public.

Close to half of all consumers (47.5 per cent) who participated reported a very low knowledge of aged care services and only 5.8 per cent said they knew a great deal about the industry.

On the whole, respondents from outside the industry rated the services provided as average.

But among those who had placed a relative in a village or home, opinions were strongly divided.

Roughly 44 per cent said they were comfortable doing so but 46 per cent said they were worried.

“Generally when you have that kind of polarisation, it shows an industry which is by its nature, immature,” said Andrew Inwood from brandmanagement which conducted the surveys on behalf of BankWest and ACAA.

“If you look across at mature industries, they tend to have smoothed out the curve and have started to better understand utility and efficiency.”

The industry survey reflected the relative ‘immaturity’ of the sector, finding single-operator, private sector businesses and church, charitable and community groups still dominate the industry.

Less than 10 per cent of managers surveyed worked for a private sector, commercial chain of aged care facilities.

The industry report also revealed a disparity between old and new facilities.

While there is a steady stream of new facilities coming into operation, the report found 41.6 facilities were built before 1987 and the owners and managers of these older facilities reported poorer satisfaction rates.

“It’s effectively a polarised industry,” said Inwood. “Those with newer and better facilities can charge better fees because they are able to provide the utility in people’s minds about what they are going to get.

“And those with older and un-renovated facilities aren’t able to enjoy the same level of confidence.”

There were however some common themes among all owners and operators surveyed.

Over two thirds said current trends place them under pressure to improve profitability in a way that reduces the quality of care provided.

Operating a business under tight budget restrictions was the most common challenge for owners and operators, closely followed by compliance requirements and staffing shortages.

ACAA CEO Rod Young said the index would be used to raise greater awareness of the issues affecting the industry.

“We hope to be able to put it out in the market place and be able to refer to it and get it be an established part of the industry information,” he said.

“We want to raise its profile and get it to be accepted as something to be referred to on a regular basis.

“Hopefully we can achieve that sort of recognition with this research so it has standing, has continuity and develops a life of its own.”



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