Providing older people with the information and support to be empowered consumers in the reformed aged care system is central to the latest reform blueprint, and providers have a role to play in this area.
That’s according to Melissa Young, a consultant who is advising the sector on aged care transformation, who says the first principal of the Aged Care Roadmap is consumer empowerment, which is essential as the system becomes increasingly consumer led.
Many seniors still accessed the aged care system at times of need, which meant they were making reactive decisions. But if they were better informed about aged care and the other informal support services available they may have made different choices, Ms Young said.
“There’s opportunity for providers in this space to be providing information and some planning materials for older people, before they access services.”
At the Active Ageing Conference next month Ms Young will outline how different models can be used to guide older people through conversations about the things they may need to help them age well and live independently as long as possible.
Ms Young is currently a consultant to CommunityWest on aged care transformation and is a former board director of Aged and Community Services WA and former chair of its community care committee.
She said that having more informed and empowered consumers would also assist providers in areas such as utilising individual budgets. “It will be easier for people to say how they want to spend their budget if they’ve already considered what’s most important for them,” she said.
At the conference Ms Young will discuss the Planning for the Next Season tool, which is a workshop used to facilitate peer conversations among older people in planning for the support and services they may need in the future.
It covers a range of areas including an overview of the aged care system, home modifications, good health and wellbeing, maintain social connection, life goals and dreams and preferences for the end of life.
“It’s never too late for people to explore the ‘encore’ things they wish they had done or possibly could do now. It’s a big part of ageing – exploring what is possible in the second half of life,” she said.