There has been a rise in the number of old age nursing homes in the past few decades. Advancement in medicine, nuclear family set-ups and other factors have led to more and more older people ending up in care homes. Better quality of caregiving, companionship and timely medical interventions when required are some of the advantages of elderly care homes that attract people.
Along with many private companies, the government has made various provisions for taking care of people in situations like these.
Australia’s population is now older, thanks to longer life expectancy and lower fertility rates. It is seen that one in every six Australians is over sixty-five, as per a 2016 survey.
Elderly support services are delivered through in-home health services, permanent residential care, respite care and transition care.
- In-home care packages: These focus on helping the elderly remain in the comfort of their own homes and their communities as long as possible, hence preventing premature and inappropriate entry to permanent residential aged care. The in-home care package has been changed since 2015, with programmes like Community Aged Care Packages, Extended Aged Care at Home, and Community Care being replaced by ‘Home Care Packages programme’ and Commonwealth Home Support Programme.
- Residential Aged Care: The residential aged care services provide two kinds of programmes: Permanent Residential Aged Care(PRAC) and Respite Residential Care(RRC).
Permanent residential aged care gives care to people who are not coping well at home; it is a government subsidised institutional residential care service. Respite residential care is a short term programme provided to recipients in residential care facilities as a break from their usual residential care arrangements. These may be in the form of holidays, planned breaks, etc.
- Transition Care: This provides short-term care for older adults leaving the hospital or those who have accessed or eligible for low-level permanent residential aged care. Transition care aims to give services to the elderly during their transition to facilitate their recovery from an illness or improve their functioning and independence to avoid their entry into permanent residential aged care.
In Australia, because of the recurrent introduction of government reformations, changes in the demographics and even in the people who use elderly care services, the provision of aged care services is very dynamic and diverse. A study published in 2019 titled ‘Trends in the utilisation of aged care services in Australia 2008-2016’ found that though the number of people receiving aged care services has increased with the growth in population and ageing, the proportion of people who require and are getting supportive aged and elderly care services has not changed in the decade.
Furthermore, it has been noticed that more people are leaning towards in-home health services and care packages than institutionalised care. Another ageing trend that has been seen is that more older people have been accessing aged and elderly healthcare services than younger people. One of the main factors that might be keeping older adults out of nursing homes and even out of hospitals might be the ready availability of at-home care services that the government and other private companies provide. Being informed about the recent trends in aged and elderly care service utilisation will help key stakeholders, especially keeping in mind the government’s emphasis on the “age in place” policy to make planned decisions regarding the future allocation of funding resources.