Support for funding of high-quality aged care

Landmark new research by Flinders University shows Australians strongly support increased funding to ensure universal access to high-quality aged care services in the future.

The research is the first of its kind internationally and was conducted for the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

Based on a survey of 10,000 adults not currently using aged care services, its findings are presented in Research Paper 6 – Australia’s aged care system: assessing the views and preferences of the general public for quality of care and future funding. The research paper is available on the Royal Commission’s website.

The Royal Commissioners, the Hon G T Pagone QC and Ms Lynelle Briggs AO, say the research confirms Australians want high-quality aged care to be delivered and accept more funding is part of the solution.

The Royal Commission’s interim report found that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required. Societal barriers to the acceptance of reform were identified as an important area of future investigation.

Nearly 90% of the people who participated in the research agreed that the Government should provide higher funding for aged care services. Almost 60% agreed there should be a reallocation of public expenditure to aged care.

On average, those people thought the share of public expenditure to aged care should be doubled.

The majority of people said they would be willing to make co-contribution payments if they needed to access aged care services in the future. People with current experience of the aged care system would be willing to pay a higher co-contribution than those without current experience. Over 70% of people would be willing to pay a larger co-contribution to receive the support they need to remain living at home rather than entering a residential aged care facility.

The Caring Futures Institute research group, from left, Dr Jyoti Khadka, Jenny Cleland, Dr Claire Hutchinson, Professor Julie Ratcliffe and Dr Rachel Milte at the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Flinders University.

The majority of current income taxpayers said they would also be willing to pay higher tax to fund aged care adequately. On average, current income taxpayers would be willing to pay an additional 1.4% income tax per year to ensure satisfactory quality aged care is delivered, and a further 1.7% per year (for a total rise of 3.1%) to achieve high quality aged care.

Participants in the study felt the most important attributes of satisfactory quality aged care are being treated with respect and dignity, aged care staff having appropriate skills and training, and receiving the health and wellbeing services they need.

The most important attributes to elevate from satisfactory to high/very high quality are the ability to lodge complaints with confidence that appropriate action will be taken, followed by sufficient, and skilled and qualified, aged care staffing, and health and wellbeing services. Being supported to make your own decisions about care and services was among the less influential characteristics, even though this is a central tenet of the current aged care system.

The research ties in with a consultation paper released by the Royal Commission in June that sets out options for the future financing of aged care. Funding and financing is currently one of the focuses of the Royal Commission’s investigations. The research paper was prepared for the information of the Royal Commission and the public. Any views expressed in them are not necessarily the views of the Commissioners.

To read the Royal Commission’s research papers, please visit the publications page

Read Professor Ratcliffe’s summary of the report, ‘Australians want more funding for higher-quality aged care — and most are willing to pay extra tax to achieve it,’ in The Conversation

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