New research on international systems and innovations in aged care has identified many opportunities for improvement in Australia, according to researchers at Flinders University
In Research Paper 2: Review of International Systems for Long Term Care of Older People, the authors examine aged care systems in 22 countries. The report uses available data and assessment of each country’s aged care policies such as financing, accessibility and regulation. The authors note country comparisons are complex and require some judgement.
The authors point to Denmark and Sweden as countries likely to have good quality long term care systems. Both have government expenditure on long term care for older people greater than 4% of Gross Domestic Product (based on OECD data), whereas Australia spends around 1.2%. Both countries fund long term care through local authorities with federal grants and local taxes. Both focus on providing long term care in people’s homes with a moderate proportion of care recipients in residential care institutions.
The report notes the need to think of a care system from the social rather than just economic perspective and highlights some key areas where the authors consider that care for older Australians can be improved:
• Increasing support for home-based care and informal carers – more high level Home Care Packages and more general leave provisions and financial assistance for informal carers.
• Increased involvement of local or regional authorities in the regulation and monitoring of long term care services.
• Increased professionalism of the workforce, for example mandatory training or registration of care workers.
• Increased transparency in staffing levels.
• Mandatory reporting and public availability of quality of care indicators, which could include standardised assessments such as the InterRAI or Australian clinical quality registers.
• Better integration with the healthcare system to improve the management of chronic diseases including dementia.
• Stronger focus on rehabilitation and maintaining function to delay and avoid disability.
• Incorporation of principles of human rights in the aged care standards.