Research Question: What are the care related choices available to older people in need of community care? Have reforms provided the pre-conditions for supporting decisions and equitable outcomes for people with varying capacities and circumstances?
Methodology: Document analysis was conducted on publically available information and resources. The aim was to understand the nature of care choices being offered to older people and the information and support being provided by the government to support care decisions concerned with ‘help at home’. Relevant documents were identified using an advanced Google search on May 2 2017. Search terms included: all of the words ‘aged care’ and ‘home’ and any of the words: ‘support’ or ‘packages’ or ‘guidelines’ or ‘policy’ or ‘program’. Pages were limited to .au domains. The first 100 results were reviewed. In addition, snowball searches were conducted within both the Department of Health website and My Aged Care (wwwmyagedcare.com.au) for additional relevant guidelines, fact sheets or consumer information.
Findings: Results highlight the provision of new choice options in relation to service offerings, service providers and individual service budgets for those with more complex needs. However, the programs offer limited information and scant support to assist older people to make informed decisions with regards to these options. When considered in the light of aging with frailty it is likely many will lack the information, desire or capacity to successfully transition from clients to consumers in this new aged care market. Of particular concern are those aging with cognitive impairment, from CALD backgrounds or without the support of a family carer.
Policy Implications: There are potentially serious consequences which may arise from funding programs which rely on choice options but don’t provide the necessary information and support for decision making by those most in need of care. In this light, the provision of equitable outcomes within the new Australian system warrants careful monitoring.