Should I stay or should I go?

The sector and Government should partner to educate the community on positive planning for later life, says aged care leader.

Chief Executive Officer, Amana Living WA: Ray Glickman

By Keryn Curtis

“Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble;
And if I stay it will be double…”

Amana Living’s Chief Executive, Ray Glickman, is probably still an Englishman at heart but that only goes part way to explaining the title and theme song for his presentation at last week’s Retirement Communities World Australia 2011 conference.

The lyrics of the 1982 hit single from the British punk rock band, The Clash, provided a neat and amusing introduction to a presentation where Glickman called on government and the aged care sector to take a direct and active role in encouraging people to plan better for their later years.

“Should aged care providers be more like travel agents and wedding planners, helping people to make up their minds?” Glickman asked the audience.

He pointed out that most people invest a lot of time and energy in researching and planning holidays and weddings which result in a short term positive experience.  And they acknowledge that leaving holiday planning to the last minute or turning up somewhere without a booking will usually result in a less positive experience. 

Yet, when it comes to researching and planning how and where they would like to live for what may be a substantial period of time in their later years, he said, they spend little or no time at all.

“People put their heads in the sand because they fear old age.  But later years don’t have to be something to fear,” said Glickman.

In fact, says Glickman, there are lots of reasons why old age can be enjoyed and research shows us that if we are living in a supported environment that enables independence and social connection and access to services, then we are more likely to remain well and independent longer.

The key factor, he said, was early decision making.  “Early decision making is critical and we need to be more active in encouraging people to think about the future and make those positive decisions, rather than sit back waiting for a miracle.”  

Part of the solution, he said, was in improving the choices available to make early decision making more appealing.  He said choices around appropriate, good quality housing was very important but that a number of other factors contribute to decision making about later life.

“In making the ‘do I stay or do I go’ decision there is much more than housing design on offer,” he said.

“People want to know that a whole lot of lifestyle related issues will be taken care of and these will vary depending on the individual.  So we need to offer a wider range of types and quality of accommodation and services.

“We need to provide greater quantity and scope of service delivery and good value for money.  We need to unlock access to health services and to a wider community life.  And we need to offer social technologies and supports.”

Glickman called on the aged care and retirement sectors to partner with the government to raise public awareness of the issue of positive planning for later life.

“A public education campaign is required,” he said, “to engage people and their families in the process of thinking about and planning for their later years.”

The cost of such a campaign, he believes, would be overshadowed by the savings and gains made in the longer term.

“It’s clear that if older people are able to remain independent and live the way they want, with the support they need, in communities of their choice, then there is a reduced burden for carers – paid or unpaid – reduced demand on services, decreased morbidity and mortality all of which reduces the financial cost to the community, especially the impact on the health dollar,” he said.

“It’s important for people to grasp the concept of goal setting in this context.  In cognitive psychology and social learning theory it has been shown that goal-setting switches off brain inhibitors and enables creative thinking.

“Where there is intentionality; where there is a goal and plan, there is a greatly increased likelihood that the goal will be achieved.”

“What I am on about is the concept that setting goals and making plans for your later years is something we all should be doing.  And there is an opportunity there for us, in the business of aged care, to assist people in the decision making process, to be partners.” 

The HAPPI Report

In his presentation, Ray Glickman referred frequently to the UK’s HAPPI report (2009), which stands for the ‘Housing our Ageing Population Panel for Innovation (HAPPI)’.  It was commissioned by the UK Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) in partnership with the Department of Health as part of the DCLG’s national strategy, entitled, ‘Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods: A National Strategy for Housing in an Ageing Society’.

The report found that a national effort was required to build homes that meet the needs and aspirations of people as they grow older; that housing design standards for older people should become mainstream and that local planning authorities should play a key role to ensure delivery of desirable housing in tune with local need and demand. 

The HAPPI report also recommended action on the part of the community to “plan ahead positively, creating demand for better choice through a greater range of housing opportunities”.

Glickman praised the HAPPI report but cautioned against the challenge becoming an issue only for architects and planners.

Tags: aged, aged-care, ageing, amana-living, architects, dclg, department-for-communities-and-local-government, happi-report, housing, planners, population-ageing, ray-glickman, retirement, retirement-communities-world-australia-2011, retirement-community, retirement-living, terrapinn, the-clash, urban-planning,

1 thought on “Should I stay or should I go?

  1. I agree with you that one should plan for their retirement as one plans and works on any goal in life. We sometimes plan vacations and buy ‘things’ spending countless hours and days.
    Our futures, as with all worthwhile goals need more of our attention and focus. Our time is well spent planning for our lifes dreams!

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