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Supporting ageing Australians in their quality of life goals

McDonald, T. A., 2008

International Conference on the Development of Old Age Programs,Shanghai


Background: Australia has the second longest life expectancy after Japan and in some regional areas, Australians have among the longest life expectancy in the world. Australia’s policy frameworks and support systems geared to an ageing population combine a innovative, planned approach with a deep understanding of what older Australians and their families need in a time of dramatic and irreversible demographic change.

Objective: The aim of this session is to share with an international audience the ideas and strategies we use and have planned for future capacity development in an ageing society.

Methods: A summary of projects and policy frameworks was constructed and presented to the audience in shanghai, China in a conference sponsored by the United Nations. Around 13% of our population of 21 million is aged 65 years or more. By 2021 this will rise to 18% and in 2051 to 26%. Currently we have 2,860 citizens aged over 100 years and by 2055 this will increase to around 78,000. Most Australians in late age live in their own homes and around 11% receive subsidised assistance with housework or basic care. Around 6% live in residential aged care homes which are subsidised by the Australian Government. With this information, programs, policy and resource allocations are arranged in anticipation of population maturity. Emphasis is placed on prevention and health maintenance; community-based support and primary health care; hospital and health care services and residential aged care or long term care services.

Results: With these program strategies Australia is heavily invested in workforce and skills development as well as research projects that will inform policy and future planning to ensure that our older Australians, in all contexts, are able to experience the quality of life they desire.

Conclusions: Issues of critical importance to the success of Australia’s provision of care and services to older Australians will be presented. These include being able to gain equitable access to a full range of health services and a continuum of care between service agencies. Other long-term issues include dental services; provision of transport related to accessing health services; improved resourcing of assessments for government subsidies related to aged care; services for people with special needs such as mental confusion, ethnic groups and indigenous communities. Workforce development and the incorporation of communication technologies in health and aged care also require careful planning.

CITATION McDonald T. (2008) Supporting older Australians in their quality of life goals. Invited speaker. Shanghai International Conference on the Development of Old Age Programs. Shanghai September 26 - 28.


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