Aged care providers need to think critically about their service access, design and operations to ensure they meet the needs of all aged care recipients, a provider peak body CEO says.
During Leading Age Services State of the Age Services Industry webinar on Wednesday afternoon CEO Sean Rooney said it was important for aged care executives and directors to discuss the current and potential issues they face in this time of upheaval.
“It’s an understatement to say that we are in a time of crisis,” Rooney told the webinar.
“There is just a shopping list of pressures that are manifesting in different ways in different services,” Mr Rooney said.
In addition to the current health pandemic, these pressures include the impacts of recent drought and bushfires and the aged care and disability royal commissions, Mr Rooney said.
It means increased risks for aged care providers including with financial and regulatory performance and workforce shortages, he said.
Mr Rooney encouraged providers to think critically about:
- what providing care at home means
- the occupancy trend and mitigation plans
- current investment plans for enhancing existing models or developing new models for care and accommodation.
Mr Rooney said over a third of Australians over 70 and more three quarters of Australians over 85 are accessing aged care services, citing the latest figures from Aged Care Financing Authority.
“This is a significant amount of the Australian population in those aged cohorts that are accessing those services.
“And we know when we look at the future demand curve with the Baby Boomer bubble that this only continues in terms of the volume of services that are going to be required and the volume of older people requiring those services,” Mr Rooney said.
During the webinar, he highlighted findings from the Global Centre for Modern Ageing’s Ageing in the Right Place 2020 report that 8 in 10 Australians aged 55 prefer to stay in their home for as long as possible.
Mr Rooney said it was important for aged care providers to look at making services homely because ageing in the home could refer to a variety of physical locations.
“It’s very insightful for all operators of aged services to think about the service you’re delivering [and] how that is being manifested as providing all those attributes that people desire and feel comfortable as a home,” he said.
“[It’s] not just the four walls and the roof and those types of utilities, but it’s the relationships and the ability to engage, whether you are in your family home, in a retirement village or indeed in a residential care facility.”
He said the sector needed to act now to address both short and long-term issues in the sector.
“Individually, we know providers are concerned about their current situation and what will come next in an uncertain future, but also collectively, as a sector and as a system, there are fundamentals here that need immediate address,” Mr Rooney said.