This report is unsettling to read in parts, but that is its value and significance. In a system where policy and practice is dominated by perspectives of government, bureaucrats, providers and professional groups, it is unique to read the views and experiences of people who are at the coalface.
The report begins with some background information about the aged care system including statistics about who operates and who lives in aged care homes. It also provides some information about the aged care reforms, the Aged Care Funding Instrument, the workforce, accreditation and government inquiries.
The next section describes the research method, including its strengths and limitations. A limitation of the study is that participants volunteered themselves for the research. Self-selected samples may be biased toward people with strong opinions. Relatives who are dissatisfied with the standards of care in the aged care home they visit are more likely to complete an anonymous survey than those who are satisfied.
The research findings are divided into four main sections. Firstly, factors that contribute to older people living well in an aged care home. This section concludes with a summary of factors that reassure relatives that residents are safe in an aged care home.
Secondly, factors that hinder residents’ wellness in an aged care home. Relatives’ main grievance concerns staffing. Without a sufficient number of well-trained staff, relatives are concerned about residents’ safety. Relatives describe poor standards of care, inappropriate activities, inadequate services and low quality meals. They also discuss the ethics of some aged care providers making large profits.
Thirdly, relatives make suggestions about how standards of care in aged care homes could be improved. Unlike the ‘pie in the sky’ suggestions that consumers commonly make for all health services, relatives made some practical suggestions about how the current standards of care could be improved.
The final section includes suggestions for systemic change within the residential aged care system. Relatives call for greater transparency and accountability. They believe increased government intervention is required to ensure all residents live well and safely in an aged care home.