The recent Scottish Government report on the increasing costs of Free Personal and Nursing Care has reignited debate as to the pros and cons of the policy and the need for integration of Scotland’s health and social care services.
Now a study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed that older people who received care in their own homes are least likely to enter permanent care within 2 years of undergoing an Aged Care Assessment.
The report, Pathways in aged care: do people follow recommendations? examines the care pathways of older Australians through the aged care system for 2 years following their first assessment for aged care services.
‘Before people can access certain aged care programs, they need to undertake an Aged Care Assessment, where recommendations are made on the preferred setting for care—either in the person’s home or in permanent residential aged care,’ said AIHW spokesperson Dr Phil Anderson.
The report suggests that over half (54%) of people who were recommended to live in low-level residential aged care and who didn’t use either residential respite or community care, ended up accessing permanent residential aged care within 6 months.
However, only a quarter (26%) of people who were recommended to live in low-level residential aged care and who did use both residential respite and community care, accessed permanent residential aged care within 6 months.
Some older people who underwent an Aged Care Assessment did not use aged care services at all in the 2 years after their first assessment. For example, one in six (17%) of those recommended to live in low-level residential care did not do so, preferring to stay in their own homes.
‘This means that people who did not use community care were more likely to access residential aged care shortly after their Aged Care Assessment,’ Dr Anderson said.
He also said that the care needs of people vary considerably when they first seek assistance and different people require quite different services—from limited assistance in the form of care in their own home to high-level care in a residential facility.
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.
Australia’s Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said: "We know that older Australians overwhelmingly want to live independently in their own home as long as possible, preferably for the rest of their lives.
"This report emphasises the need to gear our aged care and health systems around that preference.”