News and media

Oct 30, 2012
Age Well Campaign

The future of aged care

Source:  Aged Care Insite  30 October 2012

Following a number of government reports on the sector, we have polled providers, nurses, staff and others to find out what they think is needed. By Louis White

Australians are ageing and the trend is not about to stop any time soon. By 2050, there will be more than 3.5 million people needing aged care services.

With this in mind, Aged Care Insite, undertook a comprehensive survey of the important industry to find out what were the main issues facing the sector now and into the future. The subject of aged care has never been so prominent on the national agenda.

The Productivity Commission’s detailed report, Caring for Older Australians, outlined the issues facing the federal government, aged care service providers, consumers and workers.

In their report they outlined the need to cater for a significant increase in the number of older people, an increasing incidence of age-related disability and disease, especially dementia, and rising expectations about the type and flexibility of care that is received. It also outlines community concerns about variability in the quality of care, a relative decline in the number of informal carers and a need for significantly more nurses and personal care workers with enhanced skills.

In a nutshell they stated that aged care in this country can be greatly improved.

The problems, however, run deep, and even though the federal government has pledged $3.7 billion in its Living Longer Living Better plan, it may take some time before we see the benefits of its reform package.

The aged care industry is an expensive business but also generates high revenues. According to an IBISWorld report, Accommodation for the Aged in Australia (June 2012), there are billions of dollars at stake. more

Oct 30, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Living outside the city is proven better by a country mile

Source: The Advocate Coffs Coast – 30 October 2012

LIVING in the country as you age is better for your health than living in the city, according to new research.

Academics from the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Health Sciences have found that aging Australian city-dwellers are more likely to suffer from non-infectious chronic diseases such as type two diabetes, arthritis, cancer and asthma than their rural counterparts.

The researchers tracked seven years of longitudinal data for 1256 over-45s who had lived in the same area for at least 20 years.

Results showed people living in urban areas had greater odds of having from a non-infectious chronic disease than people in rural and remote areas.

Every year of age increased the odds of having a long-term health condition by 1.05, or 5% compared with the previous year, while living in the lowest socio-economic area increased the odds of having a long-term health condition by 90% compared with the previous year.

“In the city you’re exposed to a range of environmental stressors, such as poor air quality, aircraft and road noise, high density housing, lack of adequate transport, poor urban design, a lack of green spaces and shade trees, and so on,” said lead author Prof Deborah Black.

Lower socio-economic status was associated with a higher prevalence of non-infectious chronic disease because cheaper housing was generally located in areas with high levels of environmental stressors, such as industrial areas, airports or busy roads.

“As people get older, their bodies are less able to cope physiologically with environmental stressors, and exposure can accelerate the ageing process and trigger or exacerbate disease,” Prof Black said.

“With 85% of Australians living in the city and 22% of Australians estimated to be 65 or older by 2026, it’s crucial that we update policy, urban design and primary care in line with the realities of our population.” more

Oct 26, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Benchmarking survey time

Australian Ageing Agenda  25 October 2012

The accountancy firm, Bentleys is once again seeking submissions for itsannual aged care survey measuring financial and operational wellbeing in the aged services sector

The 2012 Bentleys Aged Care Survey marks the 18th year for the business benchmarking tool that seeks to inform industry stakeholders – including private and not-for-profit providers, financial institutions, government and others – about the key national issues and opportunities facing the sector.

According to Bentleys director Heath Shonhan, participating in the survey is free for aged care providers and the results will inform their thinking and help position them for the new Australian Government funding regime.

“Analysis of provider data also offers invaluable insight into performance across the industry to better inform the sector and its funders, contributing to current discussions around concepts of efficiency, rates of return on operations and equity, and potentially impacting future funding models,” said Mr Shonhan.

According to Bentleys, the 2009 survey found the average return on assets for residential aged care providers was 1.99 per cent compared to 2.95 per cent in 2006, with net profit margins more than halving in that same period.

By 2011, the survey revealed that while government subsidies had increased by six per cent since 2009, costs over the same period increased by six per cent for care components like nursing and chemist supplies, eight per cent across services like cleaning and catering and 17 per cent for accommodation costs like energy and rates. more

Oct 26, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Positive thinkers live longer

Source:  Australian Ageing Agenda

New research presented today demonstrates a link between an older person’s attitude to ageing and their mortality.

“A negative self-perception of ageing increases your risk of dying earlier by 12 per cent and risk of cardiovascular event by 34 per cent,” said Dr Kerry Sargent-Cox from the ARC Centre for Excellence in Population Ageing Research (CEPAR).

Dr Sargent-Cox said the research was based on data collected as part of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Ageing (ALSA) and found a direct correlation between negative perceptions of ageing and dying.

“This research tests the ‘self-fulfiling prophecy’ notion and finds that negative self-perception impacts your ability to age well.  Approaching old age with negative expectations directly affects how long you live.

“There has been a lot of research into the power of positive thinking, but when it comes to ageing, a positive approach has clear links to a longer life.”

Part of the first wave of findings arising from the ALSA, a longitudinal study of Australia’s aged population based at Flinders University, is now in its twentieth year and is set to produce a raft of findings that will yield new insights into how we age.  more

Oct 26, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Older Working Australians need a new start too

Source:   The Punch.com.au   By:  Ian Yates 

 

When you think of the long-term unemployed, it is unlikely that the first image that comes to mind is of a grandparent.

If experience is essential, he’s your man!

Yet the reality is that over a quarter of people on Newstart Allowance are in their fifties and sixties, and one third of the long-term unemployed are in these age brackets.

The issues around age discrimination in the workforce are disturbing and need to be addressed if we are to ensure our economy remains sustainable as the population ages.

But in the meantime, the fact remains that a person who loses a job in their fifties faces a huge uphill battle to get fulltime meaningful employment again, despite a life time of experience and credentials.

As a result, there are large numbers of older Australians who languish on unemployment benefits for years. Almost 30 per cent of the long-term unemployed are aged 55 or over.

This means that people in their sixties have to meet strict and too often pointless activity tests requirements – right up until they can apply for an Age Pension at age 65.

Australia’s unemployment benefits were designed to tide people over, to support them in the short term until they were able to gain employment. However 60 per cent of people live on it for more than 12 months – that’s not short term.

At only $35 a day it is a struggle for anyone to get by on for a short time, impossible over a longer period.

Newstart is considerably less than other support pensions. The single Age Pension is $133 a week more than Newstart and comes with less strict income tests and more generous concession card arrangements. At the current rate of indexation, Newstart payments will be worth only half of the Age Pension in 20 years’ time. more

Oct 24, 2012
Age Well Campaign

People should pay for aged care: Survey

Source:   Seven News

Some 92 per cent of Australians believe people should pay part of the cost of their own aged care if they can afford it, a survey reveals.

The Menzies-Nous health survey, released on Tuesday, suggests the federal government is on the right track with its plans to overhaul the aged-care sector, Nous Group senior adviser Gillian McFee says.

“It’s a tick for the general direction,” she told AAP.

“An overwhelming majority of older Australians recognise and are prepared to meet some individual costs associated with aged care.”

Labor in April revealed plans to overhaul the sector by splitting charges for care and accommodation.

The elderly will be charged up to $10,000 a year for home care and $25,000 a year for residential care from mid-2014. There will be a lifetime cap of $60,000.

The user-pays focus will allow nursing homes to charge accommodation bonds for high-care beds.

But the Gillard government has pledged the family home will continue to be exempted from wealth tests.

Tuesday’s survey backs that approach, with 77 per cent of respondents saying individuals should not have to sell their house to pay for care.

Ms McFee says people want to be looked after in their own home rather than aged-care facilities.

Some 91 per cent believe the government should invest more on that front.

Satisfaction rates for residential care are “very low”, Ms McFee said.

The survey also found people were happier with the health system overall compared with four years ago.

In 2008 some 63 per cent of people believed fundamental change was required. That figure is now 54 per cent.

The proportion who think the system works “pretty well” has jumped from 21 to 37 per cent in 2012. more

Oct 24, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Favourable shift in health care options?

Source:  Australian Ageing Agenda 23 October 2012

Almost twice as many people think the health system is working well now compared to four years ago and most Australians agree the public should contribute to their aged care costs, according to the results of a report released in Melbourne today by the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and the Nous Group.

However, a shift in positive opinion about the health care system, does not necessarily mean it’s time to celebrate, says the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

The Menzies-Nous Australian Health Survey report is a biennial survey designed to give a wide-ranging snapshot of perceptions and attitudes among Australians about their health and the health and aged care systems.

The 2012 report is based on telephone interviews of 1,200 people in July 2012.

While this third iteration found there has been a positive shift in attitudes, just 37 per cent believe the health system works pretty well on the whole and only requires minor changes, up from 21 per cent in 2008, when the survey was first conducted.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said: “You could look at it the other way, 63 per cent aren’t happy. That’s a lot of people that aren’t happy.”

The report further found that people with high levels of financial stress had less confidence in the health system.

And they were twice as likely to say the health care system needed to be rebuilt (15 per cent) compared to Australians not financially stressed (8 per cent).

Dr Hambleton said the health system was built for financially stressed people and if they’re not happy, it’s a good indication there’s a problem. more

Oct 22, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Getting the message out there

Source:  Aged Care Insite Oct/Nov 2012

Providers have to know who their consumers are and make use of good marketing tools, including the internet. By Reeni Ekanayake

For people in communication roles, aged care is one of the most interesting and challenging environments in which to work. There is a high degree of political intervention, government regulation, workforce organisation and consistent media attention.

It’s complex and there are many risks; the systems, procedures, policies, layers of bureaucracy and high degree of training required to deliver compliant services demand a high degree of organisational sophistication.

There are also a broad range of stakeholders often with very different objectives. Ultimately it is about people. Making people’s lives better and engaging with communities. Much of the reporting and analysis undertaken is focused on workforce performance, financial viability and organisational structure. But what about expectations, perceptions and communication approaches?

For the aged care system to remain viable into the future, people will need to contribute far more to the cost of their care than in the past. The Living Longer Living Better report says that over the next five years the number of operational Home Care packages will increase by nearly 40,000 to almost 100,000. The principles of consumer directed care will be embedded in these packages, ensuring greater flexibility and choice for recipients. more

Oct 22, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Turning grey into gold

Source:  Aged Care Insite  Oct/Nov 2012

People are working longer and the public’s attitude to the elderly is changing, says the head of the new Panel on Positive Ageing. By Amie Larter

The stigma around aged care and the costs associated will be greatly reduced if seniors become more active in the community and therefore a reduced burden on young taxpayers, says Everald Compton, chairman of the recently formed Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

The panel members are eminent Australians with strong expertise in issues facing our ageing population. It has been formed to ensure that our growing population of seniors can participate in the community and economy in whatever manner they choose.

The panel will provide advice to the federal government to ensure industry and the various governments can position Australia to benefit from a larger, more active population of seniors.

It is a key element of the federal government’s response to the final report made by the Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians, Realising the economic potential of senior Australians: turning grey into gold.

“The main challenges facing older Australians are ensuring they have access to affordable and appropriate housing and having the skills and opportunity to participate in the workforce for as long as they choose,” said Compton.

“Keeping in touch with technological innovation is also challenging. As such our forward work plan for this year includes work on age-appropriate housing supply, lifelong learning opportunities, mature-age employment, and seniors and the digital revolution.” more

Oct 19, 2012
Age Well Campaign

Research and Debate in your own lunchtime

Source:  Australian Ageing Agenda  October 19 2012

The Australian Association of Gerontology (AAG), Australia’s largest multidisciplinary professional association of people who work in, or have an interest in ageing, has launched a new series of educational webinars.

The program, which commences on Monday 29 October, has been developed to enable a wide range of people working in and around the ageing sector to participate in thoughtful, high level educational events, regardless of their location.

Australian Ageing Agenda has partnered with AAG to assist in bringing the series to AAA’s readers and subscribers.  Aimed at both members and non-members of the organisation, the topics have been chosen to reflect some of the current and emerging ‘hot button’ topics in ageing research and practice, including housing; workforce participation; lifelong learning; active ageing; volunteering and philanthropy; and age discrimination.

AAG President, Professor Julie Byles, who is Director of the Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing at the University of Newcastle and a co-director of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, said the webinar series program was based on the concept of the regular seminars presented by the Association, but with a view to making them more accessible to a wider group of participants.

“As part of its educational role, the AAG frequently holds seminars in different states and they work really, really well, both as a way of conveying information but also encouraging debate, because the format is always interactive. more

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