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COTA research sets stage for policy offensive ahead of federal poll


(L-R) Ian Yates, Jane Halton, Ken Wyatt, Rachel Siewert, Julie Collins at the report launch

One in five people who are trying to access home or community aged care have experienced difficulty, a survey of more than 2,500 older Australians has found.

But once they get services, most are happy with their care.

The Council on Ageing found in its State of the (Older) Nation report, released in Canberra on Wednesday, that almost a third (29 per cent) of those surveyed have tried to access services.

Of the 20 per cent who struggled, the top three difficulties reported were cost (24 per cent), waiting lists (19 per cent) and lack of suitable services (16 per cent).

However the survey found that of the nine per cent of Australians aged 65 and over who had received home or community care from an external provider over the past year,  most were satisfied with the service they got.

Of those, 88 per cent rated their satisfaction at 7 out of 10 or above, with just 12 per cent giving a satisfaction rating of six or below.

Insight into older Australians

COTA conducted its wide-ranging national survey of the life views, experiences and needs of 2,562 Australians aged 50 and over between August 20 and September 14.

The influential advocacy group says it will use the research to develop a targeted policy platform as the nation heads to a federal election in mid May next year.

The survey found physical and mental health were the leading issues of concern followed by finance and cost of living. Next came freedom to make choices and go to places, family life, friendships and connection to local community.

COTA said it would use the research to develop a targeted policy package that focuses on issues identified in this report.

CEO Ian Yates said the report indicated that most older Australians believe they have a good quality of life, however the research also showed many were facing challenges and being left behind.

“COTA Australia is calling on all sides of politics to commit to a long-term national strategy to address the needs of older Australians – including increasing rent assistance by 40 per cent, taking a whole-of-government approach to services for older Australians; and improving access to oral and dental health services for older Australians,” Mr Yates said.

Vulnerability indicators

Half of those surveyed had one or more “vulnerability indicator” including low income, non-English speaking or indigenous background, recent bereavement, homelessness or domestic violence.

Over half of 50-plus group don’t do recommended 30 mins of exercise a day, more than half feel the rising cost of living is leaving them behind, underemployment is evident with only 38 per cent of over-50s in paid employment, and there was a lack of trust in the government and the future.

A third had experienced age discrimination – for example when looking for work, in the workplace, when looking to rent or buy, getting professional or government services or seeking to enroll in further education.

There was overwhelming support for assisted dying, with 84 per cent supporting it and a large majority (69 per cent) saying they were open to investigating it themselves if they had a terminal illness or incurable condition.

The study also found some key differences by age, suggesting that people may become happier as they approach advanced age.

Those aged 50-59 were most pessimistic about the next two years, most financially insecure, wanted more paid work, felt they had experienced age-related discrimination and lacked confidence about consumer rights and regulations.

People in their 70s rated a higher quality of life and more financial security. The over-80s, meanwhile, said they felt ‘younger at heart’ than the other groups and were most likely to feel secure about their finances. They were also most likely to say they had never experienced age-related discrimination.

At a glance

  • 9 million Australians are aged 50 and over
  • 46 per cent feel less valued by society than when they were young
  • 33 per cent have experienced age discrimination
  • 49 per cent have one more vulnerability indicators
  • 84 per cent support assisted dying.
  • 32 per cent are most worried about health issues
  • 92 per cent had accessed a health service in the past year, most were satisfied
  • 78 per cent rate quality of life as good
  • 70 per cent feel positive about what the future holds
  • One in five don’t have money for leisure or social activities

(Source: State of the (Older) Nation Report 2018. COTA, December 2018)

You can access the full report here.

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One Response to COTA research sets stage for policy offensive ahead of federal poll

  1. Social Support Worker December 6, 2018 at 3:29 pm #

    Our older Australians need to be provided with the services they need to remain active and independent in the community.
    We are now on a regular basis seeing people who have been attending one of our Social Support Groups moving onto an Aged Care Package and suddenly because people with Aged Care Packages must pay full cost recovery to attend a Social Support Group they can no longer afford to attend so they remain at home and become more socially isolated.
    This has been raised on numerous times with the government and they just choose to ignore this issue.
    As COTA appear to have the governments ear maybe they could raise this issue?

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