In aged care systems, the terms ‘elderly’ and ‘aged’ means people who are 65 years and above. This is the age group for which aged care services are applicable in Australia. However, some special consideration is given to people who are 55 years of age depending on the prevailing circumstances.
There are various programs that are accessible by the aged and are sponsored by the government and various non-governmental organizations around the country.
The Australian Department of Health and Ageing (2011a) states that its main goal is to provide high quality and reliable care services to the aged people while ensuring that the programs are also cost effective (Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2011a, par. 3). This paper will give an overview of the services, facilities, budget and number of clients in the aged care provision services in Australia.
There are various programs initiated by various players to cater for the aged. Some of these programs as outlined by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) include assessment programs, home and community care program, respite care and residential aged care and community aged care services among others (Ageing system, n.d., p. 6).
Under this package, the eligibility of the aged people to join residential aged care is determined and subsequent admission recommendations are made. It is imperative to note that aged care assessment teams also serve as advisors and may refer aged people to home and community care programs although they lack the power to determine the eligibility of the people to join home care services.
Basically, assessment teams determine the eligibility of the clients by generating data on their age, assessed level of need for this services, sex, and dependency levels (Ageing system, n.d., p. 4). The data generated at this stage helps to determine the flow of clients in this program.
Home and Community Care Program: Most of aged care services are provided under this wing. The services under this program are home based and community based.
Home based services include meals delivery, provision of nursing services, transport, shopping support, paramedical services and house help as well as home maintenance (Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2011b). This program is funded by the Commonwealth and the Australian Government (state and territory).
Residential aged care and community aged care services: This program has been designed to offer aged care services to those who are eligible for low level residential care but live at home.
According to statistics by the Department of Health and Ageing (DHA), this program has 2,973 aged care homes in about 142,444 places providing a total of 24,430 packages. The program is linked to community aged care packages to generate and determine the level of provision of aged care services against the planning ratio.
Aged care services are sponsored by the Commonwealth and territory governments. The commonwealth pays for the following either directly or indirectly through other programs: age pensions, rent, medical fees, acute care, hospital support, disability services, home and community support services support.
The states/territories on the hand support services such as respite care, transport services, dementia programs, information distribution and home help.
The aged services are coordinated through various government departments such as the Department of Health and Ageing, Department of Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency Limited and Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care among others. These departments receive funds that are used in this project (Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2013, par. 3).
According to a report by the Department of Health and Ageing, about 2 million people benefit from aged care services in Australia (Department of Health and Ageing (DHA), 2008, par. 2).
This constitutes about 9 percent of the population which is currently approximated to be about 22 million people. However, according to forecasts, this figure will rise to about 13 percent by 2021 and 20 percent by 2051. This represents a figure of around 5.7 million people at that time.
Even though Australia ranks among the best countries that provide aged care services, there are a few interstate variations in the provision of the services. For instance, the Northern Territory received a much higher level of aged care services than the other regions.
The statistics also indicated that 6,863 hours were employed per 1000 people for home help services compared to the national average of about 1,244 hours. The other states had 1,472, 1,567 and 1,713 per 1000 people for Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania respectively. This variation is due to the high number of indigenous Australians in the North who have high morbidity levels and low life expectancy (Ageing system, n.d., p. 2).
It is a fact that Australia ranks among the best countries in the world that offer aged care services. This is due to good policies and sound management of the funds given out for this project. However there is still need to create policies to solve the interstate variations. These variations may slow down the progress in the long run if proper measures are not put in place.
List of References
Ageing system, ‘The Current Aged Care System’.
Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2008, ‘Ageing and Aged Care in Australia’.
Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2011a, ‘Description of community care service types’.
Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2011b, ‘Help staying at Home’.
Department of Health and Ageing (DHA) 2013, ‘Australian Government 2012-13 Health and Ageing Portfolio Budget Statements’. Web.