A joint study, from University of NSW, Macquarie University and RMIT, found that aged care staff are often too rushed to properly connect with their residents. Lead author Professor Gabrielle Meagher from Macquarie University said it was structurally difficult for residential and home care services to deliver person-centred care.
“The Australian aged care system has to meet increasing levels of demand, and to respond to the increasing complexity of need among older people related to daily living, behavioural issues or complex health care,” she said. “But our research shows this has not been matched with appropriate funding, staffing levels or a mix of staff skills.”
As a result, residents reported high rates of social isolation and mental distress. The report suggests that the current Australian system focuses more on clinical care – looking after resident’s physical health – than holistic care – supporting residents’ mental well being.
The RMIT report calls for:
- The social needs of residents to be central to the design of aged care services
- Aged care funding to be increased to adequate levels allow emotional support to be provided to all residents in need.
- The aged care system’s is regulated to ensure that rosters allow workers sufficient time to caring relationships.
- Workers have the right training and guidance to develop personal relationships with clients.
First hand accounts from facility managers in New Zealand have illustrated similar stressors. Residents are increasingly entering care with more complex needs than seen previously. Funding reviews are currently being done for the aged care sector in New Zealand. Click here to read more about the review and the subsequent report.