Residential aged and community care providers are being urged to unite with one voice to call upon the government to address housing issues associated with an ageing population.
The Benevolent Society has sounded the need for sector unity upon the release of its position paper, A Roadmap for Ageing Well, launched today at the Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG) National Conference in Hobart.
The paper outlines what the organisation believes is required for Australian society to age well into the future, including an increase in housing stock suited to an ageing population and the adoption of measures to address affordability issues.
General Manager of Ageing, Barbara Squires, stressed that governments must adopt a holistic approach to ageing and pay greater attention to the housing needs of older people.
“We think that our ageing population is a good news success story and the associated challenges we face are well within the capacity of Australia to deal with very well,” said Ms Squires.
“We know that older people prefer to stay independent in their own homes for as long as possible but we also know that homes can become unsuitable as we age.
“So we are joining our voices with others to call for a national housing strategy for older people, to ensure that as we head into an ageing Australia we have a wide range of options for older people.”
Ms Squires stressed the dire need to provide all Australians, especially those on a low income or with modest assets, with more choice so they can find housing as they grow older and their mobility declines.
“Older people should have choice so that if they want to downsize [their property] or if their home is becoming unsuitable for them as they age, they will have a range of options that are affordable, well designed and in areas that are well connected to their community of choice.
“I think that there is a tendency to think of ageing as something that only concerns aged care meaning residential aged or community care services. There is a tendency to forget that the vast majority of older people are living in the community.
“Some the initiatives the government is taking to taking to address the great lack of housing are highly commendable, such as NRAS. However, that scheme is designed for working families and it needs adjustment to make it more suitable for older people”.
Ms Squires therefore calls upon governments to “take a broader view and realise that all of the different parts of ageing like housing, health and liveable city design are all connected”.
Providers are also being urged to do adopt a holistic view of ageing and work together with other groups interested in ageing issues, to advocate for sector-wide change.
“Take a joined up approach and look at all of the matters that affect people who are ageing so that Australia can do really well in terms of its ageing population.”