There are over one million older Australians in receipt of government provided aged care services. These people are some of the most vulnerable within Australian society; for many, everyday living depends on the help of others. From 2013 the government has been progressively introducing a consumer directed care, or CDC – which is a fundamental change in the way public assistance for older persons is delivered. Consumer directed care can be defined as an ‘initiative to provide community aged care consumers with greater control of their lives by allowing them, to the extent that they are capable and wish to do so and relative to their assessed care level need, to make informed choices about the types of care services they access, and the delivery of those services, including who will deliver the services and when they are delivered’ (Department of Health and Ageing and KPMG 2012, p.1).
While pilot programs have been undertaken over the last two years, there is limited knowledge about CDC in Australia. Specifically, we know little about consumer attitudes to this major initiative and the appropriateness of this model of care in Australia. Australian conditions do not simply mirror other parts of the world – with high rates of home ownership amongst the older generations, limited incomes and often restricted personal support networks.
This research project will therefore examine the preferences of older people with respect to choices in aged care services. It seeks to:
• Investigate attitudes and expectations with regard to the current system of care provision;
• Define the factors that will potentially influence older people’s preferences and involvement in CDC;
• Examine the potential interaction between family, personal networks and CDC;
• Determine which factors incline older persons to either manage their own care needs or look to an organisation to manage for them; and,
• Examine attitudes to the management of their personal care budget.
This research will assist in delivering the best possible outcomes for older Australians.
This project is funded by the Australian Research Council and is a co-operative project between the University of Adelaide and ACH, Resthaven, Anglicare SA, Care Connect, Uniting Care Wesley Port Adelaide and Council on the Ageing. The project has been approved by the Human Research Ethics Committees of The University of Adelaide.