Recent interim findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have led to the Australian Government increasing the number of home care packages by 10,000. The home care packages aim to help older Australians ‘age in place’—in December 2018, 93,331 people were receiving a home care package to help with their day-to-day living, while (in March 2019) another 75,739 people were waiting for a home care package.
What is ageing in place?
Ageing in place means that as people get older they can remain living in their home rather than entering residential aged care, even when the impacts of old age (e.g. the increasing risk of illness or disability) affect their mobility and mental ability.
Ageing in place requires a degree of independent living ability for the older person (with both adequate levels of mental and physical ability), but gives them control over their living space and how they live, as well as ongoing connection to the community that they are used to. It doesn’t necessarily mean they will continue living in the same dwelling throughout their retirement, rather that they won’t be living in a nursing home.
When ageing in place works, it brings a decent quality of life to individuals and families, and saves governments money in providing residential age care facilities. Indeed, the average annual cost of care for older Australians who receive assistance was $15,525 (adjusted to $2018) for those who received In-home formal and informal care and $66,512 (adjusted to $2018) for those in residential aged care.
Recent AHURI research reveals that between 78 and 81 per cent of older Australians aged over 55 (depending on age cohort) want to live in their own home as they age. An earlier Australia-wide survey of older Australians revealed a host of reasons why older Australians wanted to age in place including suitability of the dwelling, proximity to family and friends, shopping, transport and health services, and because of familiarity with the local community and neighbourhood.