Source: flickr myfuturedotcom
Checking in with a patient Source: flickr myfuturedotcom

Written by Hannah Kotaidis, edited for online by Keira Wallace

Seniors advocates are pushing for a mandatory system to rate aged-care facilities around the country.

With an aging population and a growing number of Australian seniors in need of specialised care, experts are calling for a TripAdvisor-style platform to rate aged-care facilities.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett said there is currently no single measure in quality of aged-care.
“We know it’s been done successfully in healthcare where hospitals and health facilities have to report against quality measures or they don’t get paid, that’s part of their accreditation, we should be able to do this in aged care and that would really add value and meaning for people who are trying to make really difficult decisions about which aged care services they should choose,” she said.

Ms Bennett said there are a number of factors which need to be considered to ensure the best quality of life possible.

“From social environment, the meaningfulness of the activities, the cultural environment and religious, spiritual nurturing, the things that people value,” she said.

While it may be easy to find reviews on a range of products and services, making tough decisions on where to send our loved ones for care may not be as simple.

National Seniors Australia Chief Executive Michael O’Neill said there is a vast information gap for seniors and their families when it comes to selecting an aged-care facility.

“Plenty of information about the number of beds and the size of the bathroom and whether you can get a hairdresser come and visit you daily or a glass of wine,” he said.

Mr O’Neill said it is a difficult decision for all involved and it is crucial that reliable and relevant information is accessible.

“Decisions need to be made based on strong quality assessment measures around care and we shouldn’t forget at the end of the day it is about quality care.”

Queensland Meal’s on Wheel’s State Manager David Bannister said the rating system will be beneficial for entire families, not just those entering into care.

“I think any support, where we can put the decision making back in the hands of individuals, is going to be better for organisations like ours which runs on a very high moral and ethical standpoint.”

However, the ratings system alone would not be enough.

Care Opinion Australia Chief Executive Michael Greco said although additional systems need to be put in place, a TripAdvisor model would not be a sensitive way to solve the issue.

“It might help consumers choose where they go, but making a decision about where to put mum or dad, say into a care home, surely has to be much more than looking at a school on a review or rating website,” he said.

Ms Bennett said it’s time for the government to step up.

“We’d just like to see some leadership by government in setting basic, quality minimum standards for aged care that would enable people, who are making the difficult choice of which aged care service to go with, the basis on which to make an informed decision, it’s so important to the community,” she said.

All agree something needs done to be to afford senior citizens the best quality of care and life they deserve.