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01 December 2020

Maintaining independence in your own home

How ageing under their own roof is helping older Australians improve their quality of life.

The right of all Australians to remain living in their own home as they age has become a hot button issue in recent months. Along with the impact of COVID-19 on some aged care facilities, the topic is regularly raised during the recent Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

 
Census data shows that only around 5 per cent of Australian seniors aged 65 or over live in residential aged care. The vast majority choose to remain living in a private home. This is often their preference, even when the impacts of old age are felt.
 
Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) studies support these findings, with the institute’s research showing that 78 to 81 per cent of older Australians aged 55 and over want to live in their own home as they age.
 
RMIT University College of Business researcher Juliette Brodsky says the concept of assisting Australians to age in the comfort of their own surroundings is about maintaining independence and keeping older people connected to the neighbourhood and community. It’s all part of a framework of “active ageing”.
 
“[This is done with the aim of] improving their quality of life and giving them more control over their circumstances.”
 
AHURI agrees there are a number of reasons why older Australians prefer to age at home, however the institute also says that ageing at home requires a degree of independent living ability for the older person.
 
Installing nonslip flooring, grab rails and retrofitting rooms to help maintain a steady temperature are just some of the ways homes need to be altered as their occupants age. Yet it is clear that many Australians lack the financial means to customise their homes.
 
To help ease this burden on older Australians, the federal government provides funding for Home Care Packages (HCP) to enable those who remain living independently access to affordable support. Once approved, you can get subsidised assistance with services such as personal care, nursing, transport or social support.
 
In 2019, the Commonwealth Department of Health funded a report that investigates HCP participants’ experiences of receiving in-home care. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with responses ranging from “a godsend” to “life-saving”.
 
AHURI says it’s in the government’s interest to fund such programs, because HCPs help prevent governments having to spend money in providing residential aged care facilities.
 
Recent interim findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety have already led to the Australian Government pledging almost $500 million to provide 10,000 more HCPs to those who wish to receive additional assistance whilst remaining in their own home.
 
If ageing in your own home is something you’d like to learn more about, contact the Just Better Care team on 1300 587 823 to find out more about the options available to you.