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The aged care industry will again come under the microscope as ABC TV’s Four Corners program airs the first of its two-part series focusing on aged care in Australia on Monday September 17.

The programs will most likely focus on examples of poor-quality care identified within the system and the perceived inadequacy of Federal Government accreditation and regulatory bodies to address the issues raised.

Currently, in Australia, there are 1.3 million people receiving aged care services from around 430,000 staff and volunteers. The overwhelming majority of people receive a very good standard of care. This is supported by the findings of the independent Carnell Paterson Report into aged care quality in 2017.

Unfortunately, however, there have been some examples of unacceptable failures of care that have caused great distress and harm to older people and their loved ones.

While issues like these are bringing aged care into the spotlight, it’s important that we don’t just look away once the emotions following the program die down. Instead, are we willing to ask ourselves some hard questions about ageing in this country and how we can ensure that we achieve high-quality care now and into the future as demand for aged care further increases?

The Seasons/Envigor model is unique in Australia, providing a genuine, individualised alternative to residential aged care, ensuring optimal staffing and expertise to meet each person’s care and support needs.

We are committed to openness and transparency in relation to the quality of care we provide. We believe that everyone in our industry must be accountable and committed to continuous improvement and we welcome ongoing reforms that will make our industry better, more person-centred, and build the capacity of our dedicated staff.

We all strive to provide an exceptional life for all Seasons residents, but of course, no model, no system and none of us are perfect. At times we too must acknowledge there are occasions where we could and should have done better, and we do, that’s how continuous quality improvement works.

I am extremely proud and grateful for the team that is Seasons and Envigor. Like you, I believe that every older person who needs care and support, and their families, should expect high standards of care, safety and service, delivered with dignity, respect and professionalism. This is equally true irrespective of the accommodation setting older people find themselves in, be that in their own home in the suburbs, in a Seasons community or a residential aged care facility.

At Seasons, our mission is to help our residents live life at the age they feel inside while developing a financially sustainable alternative model of aged care. I believe passionately in our mission and I believe in bringing our elders true choice in how they spend their care years.

This can only be achieved when we allow ourselves as a society to talk openly about ageing, what our wishes are for how we want to live as we age and truly cater for the individuals in our care.  A crucial component of this discussion must be, how we as a nation are going to fund the choices we all acknowledge that older Australians are entitled to.

Important considerations:

  • In the 1950s there were approximately 15.5 working taxpayers per person over the age of 65 yrs (retirees). By the mid-to-late 2020s, there will be approaching 3.5 working taxpayers per person over the age of 65yrs.
  • In the next eight years, an additional 50,000 Australians will turn 80.
  • Real estate values and home ownership have made the current over 65s the wealthiest older generation in history.
  • How are we to ensure higher staffing levels, better rates of pay and exceptional quality of service, support and care?

We are trying to prop up a 20th century aged care industry and service model, with 20th-century thinking.  To address the issues of quality of care, individual choice, staffing, and pay rates amongst many others, Australia requires a 21st century aged services industry and services model – not more of the same.

Nick Loudon
Nick Loudon is Group Chief Executive Officer of Seasons Aged Care and a Board Director of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA). Nick has more than 35 years clinical and executive management experience in the hospital and aged care sector and believes passionately that advanced age is not a ‘disease’. His vision is that aged care with a focus on quality of life and respect for the choices of our elders can be delivered in any location.