Only one in five home care recipients believe their needs are being met all the time, according to research released by the aged care royal commission, and one in two don’t even think their needs are mostly being met.

Professor Julie Ratcliffe

However community expectations are much higher, according to the last research paper released by the commission before it hands its final report to the government next week.

Research Paper 20, which looks at questions around quality of care, aggregates data from three national studies including a survey of 865 home care recipients using a tool developed by Flinders University Researchers.

The Quality of Care Experience (QCE) questionnaire included six measures ranging from being treated with respect to the ability to make complaints.

Just 20 per cent of the home care recipients said their needs were always met across all metrics and only half said their needs were almost always met.

This was lower than the 24 per cent of aged care residents who said their needs were always met and 58 per cent who said their needs were mostly met.

It reinforces that we do need to elevate the quality of aged care, which we already know.

Professor Julie Ratcliffe

Family carers in the home care group reported lower quality of care than older people reporting for themselves.

It comes after a Productivity Commission Report released early last year found one in three older people who were living at home weren’t having their needs met.

‘Alarming’ results

The paper describes the latest results as “alarming”.

Lead research Julie Ratcliffe says it also highlights a gap between what the community expects of aged care and what’s actually being experienced by older people, with a national survey of 10,000 members of the public indicating the community believes needs should be at least ‘mostly’ met for all older people.

“What we found is there is a gap in what the general public expects a quality aged care system in home care should look like and what older people and their family carers told us,” she told Community Care.

“We found the general public told us that  those six criteria should at least be mostly met for satisfactory aged care.

“It reinforces that we do need to elevate the quality of aged care, which we already know.”

A question of funding

The research paper also contains earlier research involving 10,000 members of the public which indicated most Australians view aged care as a vital social service and are willing to pay more tax for high quality care.

People were also prepared to pay out of their own pockets both to access high quality care and to remain at home for longer.

The report says the surveys provide a valuable baseline data from which to evaluate aged care reform and public expectations after the royal commission.

Professor Ratcliffe says she hopes this will be given priority on February 26 when the final report is handed down, as well as proposals for the future funding of aged care.

“We are extremely hopeful that the royal commission will recommend sector wide quality of care assessment and I believe we now have the tools to do that,” she said.

“As a health economist I’m also very interested in finding ways of funding aged care moving forward. We need to find ways of funding aged care and we need to make sure that public funding is spent in the wisest and most cost-effective way.”

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