Consumers want a simpler aged care system

Market research commissioned by Bupa Care Services confirms consumers want the aged care system to be simpler and easier to navigate.

Above: Stephen Druce, director of group development at Bupa Care Services.

By Stephen Easton

Market research conducted by Bupa Care Services has confirmed most people 50 years and older want the aged care system be more straight-forward and easier to understand.

Bupa’s third annual survey of 1000 people aged over 50 – this year the oldest was 81 – found that a simpler aged care system that is easier to navigate was either ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to 86 per cent of respondents.

This and other findings from the survey appear to back up the results of other consumer research around ageing and aged care, including Minister Mark Butler’s Conversations on Ageing, organised by COTA Australia to discuss options for aged care reform with members of the public.

Bupa’s director of group development, Stephen Druce, said the survey showed that doctors and other medical professionals were considered the most trustworthy source of advice about aged care to 92 per cent of those surveyed.

“It was quite surprising to us actually, the strength of the response around that in terms of preferred ways of receiving information about aged care,” Mr Druce said.

Other ways of finding out about the system like websites, advertisements, emails and online forums all ranked below 50 per cent, he said, “so there’s some real value in real people”.

Speaking at the recent annual conference of Nurses in Management – Aged Care, COTA Australia’s director of aged care reform engagement, Pat Sparrow, said that consumers would like the government’s proposed aged care ‘gateway’ to take the form of a network of local offices providing face-to-face information and referral pathways.

Mr Druce suggested such a system could be delivered through existing government shop-fronts, such as Medicare or Centrelink offices.

“It’s not necessarily about creating new cost centres for the government, but maybe using existing offices like Medicare or Centrelink,” Mr Druce said.

The survey confirmed that while most Australians in middle-age or older do not want to live in residential aged care, they do believe it is an important and necessary service that should be provided at a high standard for those who do need it.

“Certainly … going into residential aged care is not someone’s first choice and if they can avoid it, they would prefer not to, however there is a general understanding that at a certain time and place in an individual’s life, residential aged care can be the most appropriate setting for someone,” Mr Druce said.

“There is that [duality]; people are not necessarily thinking about if for themselves but they believe that it can provide a real and meaningful solution for the people who do need it.”

84 per cent of respondents considered it important to be able to choose between different aged care service types – home care, respite care, day care and residential – as well as where and when the care is provided.

Most of the survey respondents also believed the government should be responsible for paying the aged care bills, not the individual. 

Bupa’s 2012 survey also found growing concern among over-50s about dementia and the demands the disease places on both individuals and families, although there was still more concern about other conditions like cancer, stroke and heart disease.

Mr Druce said the findings were in line with the results of Bupa’s previous surveys, which meant they could be relied on to help the organisation communicate with consumers about its aged care services, and tailor them to their needs. 

“For us, from a communications perspective, when we’re trying to communicate the services we provide, we need to help them in this journey of understanding things like dementia, so that’s why we do put such a big focus on it,” he said.

“I think if we’re truly caring for people, we need to know who they are, and the diseases and conditions that affect them, and ultimately what they hold important.

“In a residential aged care facility, there is the resident but equally important is the services and support you’re providing to the families, and it’s really challenging for them to see their loved one with dementia; they see it as losing someone, so it’s up to us to help them maintain a really positive relationship.”

A summary of results from Bupa’s Aged Care 2012 survey has been made available online.

Tags: bupa-care-services, consumers,

2 thoughts on “Consumers want a simpler aged care system

  1. I have read this with interest and the comment made by Pat Sparrow and the Gateway proposition is fair and reasonable. What is more interesting is the response from Stephen Druce where he suggests the use of Medicare or Centrelink offices to meet these needs. Common sense Stephen using existing real estate except for one problem and my recent experience is with Centrelink, for a person of average intelligence of whom I count myself, it is the most bewildering process trying to make contact with his institution to solve the most simple of issues and I can only wonder what that would do to assisting ordinary Australians gaining access to the Aged Care system.

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