The aged care royal commission has improved perceptions of regulation and transparency in aged care but this isn’t translating into trust, with just one in ten older Australians saying they have faith in the industry.
The Inside Aged Care study released this week found the percentage of Australians over 60 who trust the industry has plummeted from 17 per cent in 2018 to just 12 per cent this year, potentially as a result of the royal commission.
Eighty-two per cent of over-60s agree the government should focus on ensuring people can age in their own homes.
Overall, only 20 per cent of Australians trust the industry, unchanged from the first edition of the report released last year, and 69 per cent of the general population agree people should be supported to age at home.
Relatives with direct experience of aged care were most positive, with the level of trust among those with a family member receiving care jumping from 25 per cent in 2018 to 34 per cent.
However, it notes that “despite this improvement, it is important to remember that there remains two-thirds of this cohort who did not indicate having a high degree of trust in the sector”.
There were also significant improvements in perceptions of innovation, good regulation, openness and transparency in the industry, especially among the families of those receiving care, the report found.
Almost two in three people surveyed believe the aged care industry is underfunded, but almost half with a relative receiving care agree staff are expert and well trained.
However only one in four think providers offer an affordable service and the majority – 46 per cent – are confused about pricing models.
Increased scrutiny having an impact
Veronica Mayne, managing director of insights agency Faster Horses which carried out the study, said increased scrutiny by the royal commission may have resulted in providers lifting their game, but the problems that have been brought to light have also caused significant apprehension among the next generation that will move into care.
She says the reservations among over-60s have significant implications for the industry and government.
“The report taps into critical issues that are certain to be of interest not only to organisations operating in the aged care industry, but also to federal and state governments and consumers and their families,” she said.
“Organisations can leverage the data to build their services, staff training programs, marketing position and promotional materials in a way that aligns to their strengths, and marketplace needs.”
The report found 41 per cent of relatives of people receiving in-home care were very satisfied with the service, a figure replicated across residential care and retirement living.
Factors that would prompt switching home care providers included finding a better price, low satisfaction with performance, losing a current carer and finding an other service with better facilities and staff.
The in home services most likely to be used included help around the house and garden (used by 79 per cent of clients) and therapy services such as physio, chiro and podiatry (46 per cent).
“The core in-home care offer should focus on providing help around the house and garden, followed by therapy services. There is an option to tailor the service across the remaining services, including outings and social visits,” the report says.
“This data clearly shows that while medical assistance is required, those that touch on mental wellbeing such as house and garden maintenance and socialising are also important.”
A tool for improvement
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the report provided another tool to help the sector deliver better services.
“This report contains valuable insights that show that despite upward trends in some areas, as a sector we need to do better,” he said.
“This is why we need to work with government, stakeholders and the community to realise better outcomes for all older Australians.”
The report is based on surveys of more than 1,500 Australians between June and July, third of whom had a parent or family member receiving aged care.