Where do Australians want to live as they age?
Where do Australians want to live as they age — at home or in an aged-care facility? According to a survey by The CareSide, a significant majority would prefer to live at home and receive home care as they age.
Overall, 68% of survey respondents said that, rather than move to residential aged care, they would prefer to access home care services if they needed support as they age. This preference was stronger among young adults, with 70% of people aged 18–39 hoping to stay at home when they are older compared to 66% of respondents aged 40–64 (34% in this age category indicated they would prefer an aged-care facility).
Older survey respondents, on the other hand, were less likely than younger Australians to favour home care. In respondents aged 65 or older, 52% said they would prefer care in their homes, while 48% said they would prefer inpatient care.
Will the younger Australians in this survey change their minds about their care preferences as they age? Only time will tell, but in the meantime the message of this survey is clear: demand for home care is growing.
To date, this demand has not been met. As of December 2020, nearly 100,000 older Australians were still waiting to receive a home care package at their approved level. This represents a challenge for the aged-care system. Fortunately, with the recent Budget increase that includes $6.5 billion for an additional 80,000 home care packages over the next two years, the Australian Government is taking steps to better match supply and demand for home care. Increased funding and more home care packages will enable more elderly Australians to enjoy the independence and privacy of home in their golden years.
Increasing home care could prove to be beneficial to the country as a whole, with home care being more affordable than residential care. According to The CareSide’s report, the government subsidy per person is, on average, almost twice as much for people in residential services than for people receiving home care packages. The report finds that, with aged care requiring efficient use of tax dollars, increasing home care to replace residential care could be an important piece of the financial puzzle.
The cost of aged care will continue to grow in importance as the country’s population ages. The report finds that new systems that allow providers to offer more home care at lower cost will be essential to meeting the future needs of the country’s healthcare system and economy.
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