What is the future of aged care in Australia?
It is well known that as the baby boomer generation enters retirement, the demand for flexible and responsive aged care services that support independence and consumer choice is only going to increase.
What is less well known is that 1 in 3 older people living in Australia were born overseas, with most of these being born in a non-English speaking country.
Against this backdrop, last week’s CHSP Futures Australia conference highlighted the critical role of the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) in enabling Australia’s older people to live the lives they want, in the homes they want, maintaining connections with their families and communities.
One CHSP project highlighted at the conference was ECSC’s Senior Social Groups, which include participants from a range of cultural backgrounds and aim to build skills and confidence, increase social connection, and honour the traditions and cultures of participants. Members of the Indonesian social support group entertained conference delegates over lunch time with a special performance on the Angklung, a traditional Indonesian instrument.
Participants in the senior social groups talked about how their involvement has changed their lives: “gradually, over time, my social life improved, and now I feel much more “at home” in Australia”; “Now I’m not afraid of getting older”.
While such comments clearly show the impact of CHSP projects in the lives of many older Australians, measuring and communicating outcomes can be complex.
At the conference, Dr Beatriz Cardona took closer look at the Australian Community Care Outcome Measurement (ACCOM) tool and its role in understanding the connections between social care provided to older people in the community, and changes in their health and wellbeing. In her published research, Dr Cardona notes there are additional barriers to measuring outcomes for CALD older people, as further research is needed to see whether existing outcomes measurement tools are appropriate for CALD communities.
Another challenge facing CHSP providers is fully implementing a wellness and reablement approach to service delivery. These approaches move away from ‘doing for’ a person to ‘doing with’ them and aim to reduce reliance on formal services over time.
The Australian Government’s Wellness and Reablement Report Outcomes 2018 found that while 80 per cent of CHSP service providers “understand and implement wellness and reablement approaches” in their service delivery, more than half of providers feel they need more support and information about how to do so.
An even greater challenge can be helping clients to understand and adjust to the new wellness and reablement framework, a challenge that may be heightened when working with older people from CALD backgrounds.
The Ageing Well in Three Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities report notes that while older people from CALD backgrounds share many of the same concerns as their non-CALD peers, these concerns may be exacerbated by cultural and language barriers and migration experience; and that maintaining cultural identity, values, practices and language has been found to be vital for people from CALD backgrounds as they age.
This is where CHSP providers can draw upon the expertise and support of Multicultural Access Project Officers, who can work alongside them to build capacity in community outreach and engagement, cultural responsiveness and interpreting wellness and reablement in culturally appropriate ways.
Building our capacity to effectively engage with and support CALD older people is essential if we are to promote the independence and inclusion of Australia’s diverse ageing population into the future.
The “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”: 2020 CHSP Futures Australia Conference was held on Tuesday 10th March. Recordings of the main presentations will be available – contact ECSC to find out more.
By Ingrid Boland, Social Work Consultant for ECSC