Aged care in Australia has become more expensive over the last couple of decades. The problem is now so bad that the government is looking for ways to reduce the costs to taxpayers and transition to a different, non-state alternative.
The authorities in the Melbourne Metropolitan area, for instance, sold off a bunch of aged-care beds to the private and not-for-profit sector in an attempt to cut costs back in 2013. The aim was to save between $25 and $50 million per year, helping to curb the state’s ballooning aged-care costs.
This is all part of a broader trend where the public sector is trying to offload the job of providing aged-care to private and voluntary organisations. Rather than receiving care as a matter of course, people may now have to pay out-of-pocket for aged care services, putting them out of reach of many.
So what’s the solution? Many people are now looking to Australia home care as a potential solution. Rather than going to a specialist facility, its more economical to remain in one’s home and have care staff come in and provide support, as and when it’s needed. Home care in Australia is, therefore, likely to explode in popularity over the coming years as elderly home care becomes a more financially attractive option.
What’s Driving The Cost Of Aged Care?
When people in Australia start investigating the cost of aged care, they’re usually surprised by how expensive it can be. Following the withdrawal of state support, private providers have stepped in, and prices have risen. But why is aged care now so expensive, and why are more people considering in-home care in Sydney?
Supply Is Low And Demand Is High
As people live longer, the number of older adults is on the rise. The problem we have at the moment is that the population is getting older, but not healthier. Modern medicine is extending the period of morbidity at the end of people’s lives, rather than shortening it, keeping them alive for longer, but in a sick state.
The demand for aged care, therefore, has increased. As any economics textbook will tell you, when you increase the demand for something, the price goes up. Home care services in Sydney are, therefore, becoming more attractive from a cost perspective.
There’s also another problem: the supply is low. The Australian population over the age of 65 will triple over the coming 35 years, and yet there isn’t the supply needed to meet those additional needs.
Part of the problem is the slow rate at which the home care industry is adapting. It takes time for companies to expand their operations, and many are risk-averse: they don’t like change. Supply, therefore, remains fixed at a low level, while the need continues to escalate. At some point, more providers will enter the market and offer beds, but it’s a constant game of catch-up, which puts up the price today.
It Involves A Lot Of Labour
As any business owner will tell you, buying labour in Australia isn’t cheap. Wages here are as high as they are anywhere in the world, and somebody has to pay them.
The problem for aged care is that if they pay workers less, then they will go and find jobs in similar roles that pay more. Firms that supply aged care don’t have the option of cutting wage costs: if they do, they won’t be able to attract people with the right skills to their companies.
Much of the work in aged care is labour-intensive. Not only do you need carers to provide essential services, but also a range of supporting medical professionals to offer bespoke assistance. It’s not cheap. Home care offers an alternative because you only buy the labour you need, and don’t have to pay for other overheads, like the accommodation – you stay in your own home.
Aged Care Has Additional Fees
Bed and board are pricey enough in aged care settings, but when you include additional fees, costs can become prohibitive for many people. Prices vary from provider to provider, but if you choose aged care, you could end up paying out additional money for daily fees, deposits and accommodation charges, means-tested fees and fees for extra services, like days out.
Some firms allow you to pay these fees in instalments, but many insist on getting the money up front. That can put a burden on people’s finances and make the services unattainable long-term.
There Are Many Overheads
When you pay for aged care, you’re not just paying for the treatment and care support: you’re also paying for the upkeep of the facilities themselves. Many care homes have to pay rent or mortgages on the buildings that they occupy, and the customers themselves must meet those costs.
Care home costs can be high. Many operate in older buildings with less efficient heating and higher maintenance costs. These costs all add up and have to be paid by someone.
Why Home Care Is Now A Viable Option
Because of the cost of aged care, many families are looking into Australian home care services. These are services delivered at a person’s home, avoiding many of the costs associated with regular aged care. Home care services also offer a host of benefits which may make them more appealing than the convention options. A home care agency can potentially increase the quality of life for certain people requiring care far beyond that possible in a regular aged care environment.
Home Care Might Be Cheaper
As the cost of aged care rises for political and demographic reasons, many people are wondering whether in-home care support in Sydney might be a more affordable alternative.
It depends on an individual’s needs. But in general, when you choose homecare, you only pay for the services that you need. In-home care providers supply care workers at intervals of your choosing. So, for instance, if a person needs regular, around-the-clock support, then services will provide carers who are there the whole time. Likewise, if a person needs help preparing food, then a home care provider can offer assistance three times a day to coincide with meals. It all depends on a person’s needs.
What’s great about this service is the fact that a person can get as much or as little assistance as they like, and only pay for what they use. Unlike regular aged care which typically has fixed fees, home care in Sydney is personalised to the individual situation.
Home Care Allows You To Stay Close To Friends And Family
There’s another reason people don’t want to pay more for aged care: it takes them away from friends and family. No, it’s not a financial cost in itself, but it can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life. People want to feel part of a community that they trust. Thrusting somebody into a care home might not be the best idea.
When you choose home care, a person gets to stay where they are, rather than having to move. They can carry on their relationships with their neighbours and experience the life of the community. The great thing about home care is that there usually isn’t any reason to move: people can have their needs met in their home by skilled carers with the necessary training.
Home Care Can Be Tailored To Your Needs
Home care should be personalised to the needs of the person receiving the care. By and large, this is the main draw of the service. People can build a relationship with their carers and construct a care plan around their individual needs.
It a hectic care home setting, this can be more difficult. Varying shift patterns, high staff turnover, and the sheer volume of people can make applying individual care plans a struggle.
Many people worry that home care can’t provide for all their needs because it happens in their homes. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Professionals can install any equipment that a person needs, and provide expert services. Yes, there are some situations in which moving to a care home is the right strategy, but they are rare.
Home Care Allows You To Live With Your Pets
There’s no denying that pets are an important part of many people’s lives. Care homes, for the most part, don’t allow pets, which is why being able to stay in one’s home is so essential for many people who need care.
Home Care Is Means-Tested
The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care services across Australia. The idea is to see what money people have and how much they can personally contribute to the cost of care, and then top this up through means-tested benefits if they lack sufficient funds.
The Australian government offers means-tested assistance for both home care packages and aged care homes, such as nursing homes. The government supplies a tool that you can use to calculate the basic daily fee and an income-tested care fee that takes into account how much you’ll pay, based on any subsidy that you might get.
The great thing about means-testing is that it makes home care affordable for more people. Even if fees seem high, it’s worth checking whether you can claim any money back through the subsidy programme. You could be surprised by how much you save.
Factors Pushing Australians Away From Aged Care Services
It’s not just the lower cost of home care that is pulling Australians towards the service, but some of the downsides of opting for nursing homes. As we’ve discussed already, care homes are likely to be more expensive, even with subsidies, but there are a host of other reasons why they are costly, and why you might want to choose home care instead.
The Quality Of Care May Vary
The great thing about home care services is that you get to know your carers and the quality of care remains consistent over time. But one of the common complaints people have of care homes is that the quality of the care they receive varies from one day to the next.
The reasons for this are complicated, but usually, it has to do with the ability of management to organise an effective operation. Poor management often leads to poor quality of care, no matter how committed the workers are on the ground.
People Must Fit Into A Single Room
Another cost of aged care is the fact that in many settings, people must fit all of their belongings into a single room. At home, people can spread out and keep as many possessions as they like. But when in a care home, they often have to give up some of the things that they love.
Home care neatly skirts around this problem. With home care, people don’t have to change any aspect of their physical surroundings. If a person wants to have a clock on their mantelpiece and painting on their wall, then they can: it’s their home.
Other Residents May Cause Issues
Care homes put lots of people together who don’t know each other and may not ordinarily associate with each other in free-living situations. There’s a constant need, therefore, to get along with people and blend in. Granted, some people thrive in these environments, but others may want more privacy and control over the people in their space. It’s common for people living in care homes to fall out with other residents. Thus, not only are people paying higher fees in many cases for nursing homes, but they also have to put up with the cost of having people around that they may not like.
So is home care becoming a viable option? Almost certainly. In fact, it was always an option for people wanting to avoid the financial and other costs associated with living in a nursing home. Home care gives people more control over their lives and provides all of the support that they need to continue living independently for as long as possible.