Future Trends in Australian Aged Care
Aged care is a $20 billion+ industry in Australia, employing over 224,000 staff across more than 1,800 businesses who care for over 270,000 elderly and disabled Australians across the country.
The aged care sector is also fast growing in this country, driven largely by our sizeable baby boomer cohort who are estimated to be 5.5 million strong and make up our largest demographic group. Born between the years 1946-1965, the oldest baby boomer in 2017 is 71 years old – firmly in retirement-age territory, whilst the youngest will be celebrating their 52nd birthday. It goes without saying this massive demographic are a force to be reckoned with. Having already reshaped Australian culture and society over recent decades whilst ‘sitting behind the wheel’ so to speak, the baby boomers are set to forever change healthcare and in particular the provision of aged care in the years ahead. So what are some key aged care trends we can expect to see as ageing baby boomers leave their mark on this crucial sector that provides a valuable community service?
4 TRENDS SET TO SHAKE UP THE SECTOR IN COMING DECADES
Aged Care Trend #1: Demand For Aged Care Beds & Staff Will Only Grow
The first key trend facing the Australian aged care sector goes back to demographics once again, and that’s the undeniable bulk of our 5.5 million strong baby boomer cohort who are now entering their retirement years in large numbers. In fact with almost one third of Australia’s baby boomers already past the official retirement age of 65 (when they can access the full aged pension) and approximately 8% of all Australians aged 65 and over living in residential aged care, demand for new aged care beds will rise by an estimated 76,000 places in the next 5 years alone. Looking at the longer term, the federal government’s 2015 Intergenerational Report predicts the number of Aussies 65 years and over will double from 3.6 million today to 8.9 million by 2054-55. This not only makes the aged care sector an attractive prospect for job seekers looking for a stable, in-demand career, it also means paying for aged care will become a hot political issue.
Aged Care Trend #2: We May Have To Pay More For Residential Accommodation
Aged care in Australia is currently a hybrid system, with the federal government partly covering the costs of residential care accommodation for elderly and disabled citizens who pass a series of mean-based eligibility tests via what is known as the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI). As of 2016 total federal government spending on aged care and related services was $17.8 billion for approximately 270,000 people (or $65,000 per person). With the number of citizens in aged care expected to grow exponentially in coming decades, the federal government will find it increasingly difficult to fund the current level of care it provides, meaning more market-based approaches will be needed. In other words, wealthy Australians with significant assets such as highly-valued houses will be expected to pay higher out-of-pocket fees for aged care accommodation, in order to subsidise those who have little or no assets and therefore little means to fund their own care. Given the budgetary pressures governments across the country face, it’s not unrealistic that one day aged care will be an entirely fee-for-service sector for all but the poorest Australians.
Aged Care Trend #3: Residents Will Demand Greater Lifestyle Amenities
As baby boomers ease into their retirement years in large numbers and begin utilising residential aged care accommodation, many will demand greater lifestyle amenities not typically associated with this sector. With the baby boomer generation typically asset-rich thanks to the value of their residential property and superannuation funds, they’ll both expect and be able to fund a standard of living not dissimilar to their younger, independent years. This can be seen in everything from the increasingly architect-designed nature of aged care facilities, which feature ample natural light and polished surfaces, to concierge services and in-house chefs preparing gourmet meals on a daily basis. Other lifestyle amenities include regular social activities and excursions to keep aged care residents fit, healthy and well-connected to others.
Aged Care Trend #4: Technology Will Play A Greater Role In Providing Care
Finally, digital technology is set to play a much more visible role in the provision of aged care services in Australia. From powerful comparison websites which allow the public to read reviews of individual facilities and compare their fees, to more ambitious possibilities including smartwatch-style monitoring devices and even robotic assistants who can follow nurses around facilities as they tend to residents; technology can enable administrative tasks to be completed more efficiently, freeing up quality time to tend to residents social and emotional needs.
Does aged care sound like the kind of career you’d be willing to pursue? For more information on job opportunities at Japara, please visit our careers page today or alternatively, call us today on (03) 9649 2100 to have a chat with one of our friendly staff members