The aged care industry caters to people 65 and over. These seniors need support and resources to manage daily activities at home or in an aged care facility.
Assistance for seniors includes health care, equipment, personal care, everyday living and accommodation.
Aged care helps seniors be more independent, maintain their health and wellbeing, stay connected to their loved ones, and take care of their safety and social needs.
A senior can receive these services at home, in a nursing home or in respite care.
If you’re looking into options for aged care for you or your loved one, the following guide covers some important points you need to know about.
What are some of the key industry issues
Aged care is a government-subsidised service, but seniors must contribute to the cost if they are financially able to.
The amount depends on the services, care provider fees, where you receive the care and your financial situation.
However, providers require approval to charge fees for certain services.
How to pay for aged care:
- A senior can use superannuation or savings. However, using savings depends on one’s financial status.
- Refundable accommodation deposits (RAD) and daily accommodation payments (DAP): RAD is a sum of money you deposit at the beginning of your stay which covers the expected time in the facility. DAP is a daily administrative fee.
- Government assistance: there are many payment initiatives put in place by the Australian Government to fund residential aged care. The common ones are Commonwealth Home Support Programs (CHSP) and Home Care Packages (HCP).
Technology solutions to improve aged care
The aged care sector is undergoing a reformation to improve the quality of care, and access to services and support.
But a digital transformation is also required to provide a more consolidated, sustainable and modern level of service.
Seniors are prone to falls, injuries and other physical injuries due to aging and decreased mobility.
As such, the industry needs to adopt technological solutions to reduce the impact and occurrence of these incidents.
Wearable technology and alert buttons in convenient locations in seniors’ living spaces are just some of these digital technologies that can improve liveability.
Wearable health monitors are a great innovation for the aged care industry. They can be worn as watches or around the neck to monitor heart rate and alert the caregiver if there’s an urgent issue.
Other health trackers can be placed under a mattress or chair.
The use of data tracking has transformed the way medical information is acquired and stored.
The data may include doctor’s appointments and health checks, and the caregiver can access the senior’s medical history through an app.
The use of technology has also enabled connectivity.
Residents need to be able to connect with loved ones via video calls and emails. Virtual reality technology has made it possible for seniors to enjoy entertainment and video games as well.
The rules and regulations of the aged care system
Government funded aged care services is governed by the Aged Care Act 1997. The act sets out rules for funding, regulation, approval of providers and quality care.
It also dictates the rights of the people receiving care, funding for residential care, screening aged care workers and the governance of approved care providers.
The quality of care principles (2014)
This act covers the care and services that an approved provider must provide, the quality standards for seniors’ care, and the dignity of choice for their personal and clinical care.
User rights principles 2014
This act covers security for residential aged care, directs how to charge residents for services and manages complaints.
Approved provider principles 2014
This act shows who is eligible to receive home care, residential aged care or short-term care, depending on the person’s physical, mental and psychological circumstances.
The role of the Australian Government in aged care laws
The government administers and develops policies for quality aged care. It also communicates with organisations and other groups about issues related to caring for the elderly.
The government also chairs committees, such as the Aged Care Financing Authority, Aged Care Sector Committee and Residential Aged Care Funding Reform Working Group.
Health Services for older people
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is mandatory to be vaccinated if you work in the aged care industry.
The National Cabinet endorsed the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommendation to vaccinate aged care workers. The AHPPC also recommended COVID-19 vaccinations for in-house and community care workers.
For residents, COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary but highly recommended by the Department of Health.
Seniors can receive the first, second and booster doses to prevent hospitalisation and COVID-19-related deaths.
Audiologist (hearing care)
Audiologists are health practitioners with knowledge and skills in managing hearing loss and treating people with central vestibular function disorders.
The aging population demands more audiologists in the hearing healthcare sector and an increased need for hearing aids.
Hearing loss and balance disorders are highly prevalent problems affecting seniors.
Seniors can receive audiologist care under Australian government-funded programs such as the Department of Health’s Hearing Services Program, Medicare and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The role of an audiologist in aged care includes:
- Conduct a diagnostic hearing assessment.
- Prescribe and fit hearing devices and assistive listening systems.
- Counsel seniors, their families and caregivers through the diagnosis of hearing impairment.
- Establish rehabilitation plans for the seniors.
Sometimes, seniors can struggle to complete daily tasks. Occupational therapy can help them maintain and even recover the skills required for everyday tasks.
An occupational therapist (OT) can offer services at home or in residential aged care facilities.
An OT is able to assess a senior’s ability to perform daily activities like dressing, cooking or bathing.
Based on the results, they help seniors improve their ability to do things by getting them to perform different exercises or by using assistive devices.
Psychologists play a crucial role in addressing the mental health needs of seniors in residential aged care facilities or at home.
They collaborate with other medical professionals to offer comprehensive mental health services to improve the quality of life for seniors.
Key products for elderly care
If mobility is an issue for a senior, it is wise to consider the use of tools such as mobility devices or vehicles.
The right mobility tool depends on the person’s needs but there are many options available, such as canes, quad sticks, walking frames, rollators and standard or electric wheelchairs to help seniors move more comfortably.
Vision and hearing aids
Hearing and vision problems are common amongst seniors.
Getting help from an audiologist can be of great assistance if you have reduced hearing, as they can fit you with an analog or digital hearing aid to improve your hearing.
Seniors with vision problems can also seek the help of an optometrist for glasses or can get assistance with other non-optical tools to support their vision.
Lifting and transferring equipment
Seniors with limited mobility may require assistance to transfer from one place to the other.
Lifting and transferring equipment makes it easier for caregivers to assist seniors and prevent falls.
The most common types of lifting tools are stand-up lifts, floor-based sling lifts and overhead sling lifts.
Toilets for seniors
Constantly sitting and standing can be difficult for seniors due to mobility issues and injuries.
Fortunately, there are fixtures such as tall toilets available to make this process easier for seniors.
When choosing a toilet, you should always consider the height, the shape of the bowl and the way it flushes to make it as convenient as possible for seniors.
The future of the aged care industry
The aged care industry has undergone major reform over the past few years.
In 2022, seniors can access improved quality of care and better support services.
Government-funded programs allow seniors to access funding more easily and the Australian Government is committed to protecting and implementing policies to protect seniors and better regulate the industry.