The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has welcomed new research showing Australians want a better funded aged care system. The research also exposed widespread frustration at the lack of investment to improve the quality of life of older people.

Commissioned by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the Flinders University research found almost 90 per cent of participants agreed that the government should increase funding for aged care services. They also noted the most important aspects of quality aged care services were treatment with respect and dignity and receiving the health and wellbeing services they need.

The APA has called for a component of any increase in funding to go to quality allied health services.

Older Australians’ quality of life is greatly enhanced by maintaining physical activity, key to which is strength and balance exercises that support independent movement and social activity. Previous research has shown that balance and strength classes led by physiotherapists lead to fewer and less severe falls among aged care residents.   

Current government funding is limited to the provision of passive pain relief measures only, and does not support contemporary evidence-informed pain management. It also does not allow physiotherapists to deliver strength, balance and conditioning programs that support staying active and falls reduction.

APA National President Phil Calvert says it’s time to change. “We’ve been frustrated for a long time about the constrictions placed on physiotherapy funding in aged care settings. Passive pain management techniques are not effective. The government needs to come to the party and adequately fund what works, and that is evidence based movement classes that lead to stronger, happier and more confident older Australians. Surely we owe them that much?”   

“Notwithstanding the current lockdown circumstances that have limited access by outside staff, the sooner we get these programs funded and rolled out the better off people living in residential aged care will be, both physically and mentally.”

 
 

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