The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s commissioned surveys of aged care residents reinforce the Australian Physiotherapy Association’s (APA) call for quality, evidence based and person centred care.   

The National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) reports released this week presents the results of its survey of aged care residents, highlighting how they feel about their lives and the care they receive. It is the first detailed study of its kind in Australia and showed that problems within the sector exist across a broad range of areas.

APA Director and gerontology physio Rik Dawson, who presented at the Royal Commission, says that the report reinforces physiotherapists’ frustrations about the limited choices available to treat and support better health outcomes for aged care residents.

“In many cases residents receive substandard care as the norm. This report is another addition to the growing list of calls for a complete revamp of our aged care system. We know that a system that supports basic, minimum standards results in poor long term health outcomes and indeed hastens decline in many instances.”

“Allowing physios to deliver full scope of practice care to older Australians, something that they have said they want on multiple occasions, is the best way to improve quality of life, independence and mobility.”  

The survey showed that falls prevention and continence are two areas of significant concern among older Australians, both of which can be treated very successfully with appropriate physiotherapy care.

Some other key findings of the NARI report include:

  • 13% of aged care residents said they only sometimes (or less often) received the support to make their own decisions about the care and services they receive
  • 16% said they only sometimes (or less often) receive care and support from appropriately skilled and trained staff
  • 8% said they only sometimes (or less often) received the support and services they felt were important for their health and well-being
  • 26% cited medical and health care concerns, including falls and fall prevention, medication management and access to medical professionals
  • 24% raised concerns about dignity and respect.
  • 17.5% raised concerns about being given choice, including being treated like a child or shouted at by staff and feeling forced to be dependent on staff or wear continence pads, not having specific care needs thought about or listened to, and lack of choice about timing of meals, personal care and lifestyle activities.

The APA concurs with the report’s finding that high quality care is synonymous with person-centred care. This includes knowing the person, welcoming family, providing meaningful activities, being in a personalised environment and experiencing flexibility and continuity.


Rik Dawson is available for further comment.


Related tags