Trust in the aged care sector is at the lowest level in two years with less than one in five Australians expressing a high degree of trust, a survey about aged care shows.

Less than a third of respondents believe that staff are well trained (29 per cent), which is also a two-year low, according to Faster Horses Consulting’s Inside Aged Care 2021 report.

The fourth iteration of the report, which was released last Tuesday, is based on data collected from more than 2,300 Australians in May and June 2021 about their attitudes and perceptions of the aged care industry.

It found that less than one in five people have a high level of trust in aged care (19 per cent), down from 22 per cent in 2020 and 2019 respectively.

Faster Horses director of social and government James Wunsch said the royal commission’s final report and the impact of COVID-19 eroded trust in the sector. 

“There’s been a drop in trust in the sector overall,” Mr Wunsch told Community Care Review.

“The sector’s faced a double whammy from COVID and the royal commission, and while the focus of the royal commission was on residential care it’s tarnished the sector as a whole and the trust deficit is really something that the sector as a whole needs to confront head on,” Mr Wunsch said.

James Wunsch

“Our report shows those providers who can better tailor the aged care experience to the individual needs of the user – including the ability to offer flexibility and to scale service provision as needs change – can likely differentiate their service offer and show they are genuinely heeding the royal commission’s findings in transforming their operations and service delivery experience for their clients,” Mr Wunsch said in a statement.

The report also shows that 16 per cent believe the aged care industry is open and transparent, which is down from 22 per cent the previous year.

Similarly, the proportion of respondents who believe the aged care industry is well regulated declined to 18 per cent, down from 28 per cent the previous year.

However, there was an improvement in the proportion of respondents who believe the aged care industry managed the challenges of COVID-19 very well (27 per cent) compared to the previous year (23 per cent).

The survey also found that 41 per cent of those currently using aged care services are concerned, up from 38 per cent in 2020.

Similarly, there is an increase in aged care recipients who feel vulnerable (36 per cent, up from 24 per cent in 2020), sad (24 per cent, up from 22 per cent in 2020) and apprehensive (40 per cent, up from 39 per cent in 2020).

Aged care recipients who feel in control of their care slightly dropped to 24 per cent, down from 25 per cent the previous year.

Satisfaction with home care drops

The report also found that 69 per cent of families are satisfied with home care their loved one receives, down from 75 per cent in 2020.

Areas showing the biggest decline included communication with providers (59 per cent down from 67 per cent), range of services on offer (59 per cent down from 66 per cent) and ability to easily change care arrangements (58 per cent down from 67 per cent).

“People and relatives especially are looking for improved communication from their care providers,” Mr Wunsch said.

Sean Rooney

“The other key point was in terms of people wanting flexibility if needs are changing. Providers that get those two drivers of satisfaction right are probably the ones that will do best,” he said.

The survey looked at the most common home care services likely to be accessed in the next five years.

Help around the home topped the list at 71 per cent followed by therapy services (29 per cent) and meals (25 per cent).

Demand for personal and clinical nursing services was notably lower than in 2020 although the report suggests this may be related to COVID-19 fears.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said the report underscored the need for the sector to continue to invest in ensuring employees had the skills, tools and knowledge to deliver consistent and high quality care.

“The report will be an invaluable addition to the planning and marketing toolkit for every aged care provider,” Mr Rooney said.

Access the report.

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