Healthy ageing gets left out

One of Australia’s biggest welfare groups says aged care reform needs a broader focus.

The aged care reform process needs to have a bigger focus on healthy ageing, according to the head of one of Australia’s biggest welfare groups.

UnitingCare Ageing’s National Director, Susan Helyar, welcomed the federal government’s commitment to inject significant funding into aged care as part of its health reform package.

But she said more funding must be directed towards helping older people to maintain positive and active lifestyles.

“We need to do things like good chronic health management,” Ms Helyar said. “Because people with chronic health problems can end up needing residential aged care because their chronic care was not good.

“Other people end up having falls because their housing is not suitable or they can’t access support to keep their garden or keep house maintained.”

For the past two years the UnitingCare Ageing network has been focusing on preventative care initiatives and early intervention strategies.

Since then, the group’s members have begun to run exercise programs, chronic health management plans and activities to improve access to primary healthcare.

Ms Helyar also called for greater support for family carers as the availability of professional caregivers continued to decrease.

“We need to do all we can to help carers keep performing their caring roles,” she said.

“That might involve paying carers to do what they do by providing more than just the carer support payments and that may involve providing money to families to help care for their loved ones.

“If the alternative to a carer falling over and not being able to continue is to give them an extra $20,000, that is a good outcome.

“If the carer wasn’t able to continue, their family member could require higher levels of care that cost up to $60,000.”

Tags: aged-care, commonwealth-government-takeover, reform, unitingcare,

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