People using aged care services in coming years will have much higher expectations than the current group of consumers, according to leading demographer Bernard Salt.
The partner with KPMG told the Aged and Community Care Victoria (ACCV) State Congress that the values of older Australians are changing.
“The next crop of older Australians will be the first generation of retirees who have not gone through the depression – those people who were characterised by sacrifice and ‘going without’.
“They are educated, opinionated and leisured people and they are very different to the people you have been dealing with up until now.”
The baby boomers invented the transition into teenagehood and adolescence 40 years ago Mr Salt said and it is likely that they will “re-engineer” retirement as well.
“Generations X and Y have picked up teenagehood and stretched it out to the age of 30.
“They have postponed all the traditional hallmarks of adulthood such as marriage and buying a home.
“Why won’t the boomers do exactly the same thing to the later years in life?”
In the same timeframe, the aged care sector will also need to prepare for an ageing workforce.
“One third of your current workforce could retire over the next decade,” said Mr Salt.
“And even if they don’t retire they will present a greater OH&S risk and you may need to re-engineer your jobs to cater to older workers.”
But the ageing population should not be viewed as a burden according to leading aged care academic, Professor Hal Kendig from the University of Sydney.
“Can we afford the health and care for older people? Yes,” he said.
“The intergenerational report said the fiscal challenges for the health system were mainly an issue of an ageing and growing population.
“But most of the cost increases will actually be due to better utilisation and quality of health for all. Only 20 per cent of the projected increase is due to population ageing.”