Most Australians believe the aged care industry is untrustworthy and lacks transparency and quality services, according to the findings of a national study presented at an aged care conference.
The study, Inside Aged Care, was undertaken by insights agency Faster Horses Consulting and involved 1,701 participants.
It aimed to investigate how the general public perceive trust, government funding levels, clarity, innovation, transparency and the quality of care levels in the aged care sector today.
The data presented at the LASA National Congress in Adelaide on Tuesday shows that perceptions are low across the board. However, people involved in the aged care sector as a service recipient or family member of someone accessing services perceived the sector more positively than others.
The study found that 25 per cent of those involved in the aged care sector and 18 per cent of the general public trusted the industry while 17 per cent of people involved in the sector and 13 per cent of the general public believed aged care is open and transparent.
Only 40 per cent of participants involved in the aged care industry and 30 per cent of the general public indicated they believed residents received high quality care.
The results show that 25 per cent of participants involved in the sector and 19 per cent of those not involved believed the industry was innovative.
Faster Horses Consulting managing director Veronica Mayne said there needs to be a fundamental shift in how aged care is perceived.
“You have to understand the needs of your customers and then adapt your organisation to meet those needs,” Ms Mayne told delegates.
She said the study findings indicate the factors that motivate people’s choices when accessing aged care services.
“Organisations can leverage the data to build their position and promotional materials in a way that aligns to their strengths,” she said.
The report also found that 50 per cent of those involved with the aged care sector and 39 per cent of those not involved agreed that residents were treated with respect and consideration.
She said it was important to put customers at the heart of the organisation to change perceptions on aged care.
“We found in our research that people feel organisations are still paternalistic, traditional and inflexible.
“Customers are asking for a shift to take place from that rigid structured model to a much more collaborative, warm, flexible and empathetic type of organisation,” she said.
Decisions in aged care are based on wanting independence, stability, belonging and change, including freedom and spontaneity, Ms Mayne said.
Providers can better meet the needs of residents by getting the basics right and improving in the areas of professionalism, clinical care, connectivity and flexibility, she said.
“It’s all about trust, reliability, transparency and openness,” she said.
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the report was another tool to improve the delivery of services and to care for older Australians.
“This report underscores the need to get on with making the system better right now by addressing funding and workforce issues, whilst the Royal Commission is underway,” Mr Rooney said.
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