The History of Aged-Care Facilities in Australia

As people age, physical capacity and mental alertness decrease inevitably as a sign of wear and tear. This phase diminishes functioning and adaptation dramatically.

To aid them, around 2,762 of these aged-care facilities stand erect as of 2018 in Australia. Its pursuit of giving as much independence to a growing aged population. An estimated two hundred thousand Australians live and stay in these homes. Apart from an average of 75 beds provided per facility, extended help includes help with everyday living. This prioritises performance of their own ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) with minimal assistance. There’s also a consideration for overall health care. Also, accommodation on top of it all is provided in which living aids and equipment suffice their stay. This is what Aged-Care in Australia is all about.

When it all started

Since 1890, consideration for the indigent elderly to be given necessary support of food and water emerged as they got incarcerated into ‘protective’ asylums. Records showed that there were instances within the years 1890-1900 that the number of inmates in these said asylums doubled due to relatives disclaiming their elderly loved ones. Some even changed their names to avoid being traced to accountability. Melbourne Benevolent, tripled their inmate numbers from years 1891 to 1897. 

Older men were greater in number. They saturated the older people’s asylum. Sadly, in the early 1900s, due to the increasing number of inmates in New South Wales, because no relatives cared for them, these men had to be labourers owning no property. On the other hand, the older women were taken into families to do unpaid help doing housework and childminding.

From the time before World War II up until the 1950s was when aged care services were developed. With the help of voluntary organisations, mainly religious and social philosophies, advocacy for caring and attending to the needs of the elderly, was made possible. Some of these organisations that were heavily involved were Uniting Church, Red Cross, and the Country Women’s Association.

Aged Person’s Homes Act

In 1954, the Federal Government acted upon provision of capital subsidies to approved charitable organisations calling it the Aged Person’s Homes Act. It also provided mostly self-contained and hostel-type accommodations to the elderly. 

Commonwealth Nursing Home

In 1962, the Commonwealth Nursing Home was introduced to counter nursing home care emergence principally aided by the for-profit sector. Recurrent subsidies were extended to hostels in 1969. In line with this, more hostels were constructed by the charitable sector and the Church.

When nursing homes started to grow

A rapid growth in nursing homes and healthcare equipment continued from 1963-1971. The nursing home beds increased in number from an average of 29 beds per thousand population aged 65 and up to 46.5 per thousand. However, this growth was sporadic, which led to uneven distribution and unequal accessibility of the mentioned services, considering all the states.

The Government regularly reviewed these aged care services and came up with constant reforms. From the early 1980s onwards, four reviews were inquired. 

1. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Expenditure Sub Committee Concerning Accommodation and Homecare for the Aged;

2. The Establishment of a Senate Select Committee on Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes (1981);

3. The Establishment of a Joint Review of Hostel Care Subsidy Arrangements (1984);

4. The Joint Review of Nursing Homes and Hostels (1985)

As the Labor Government implemented changes from 1985, people started to call the aged care reform strategy on many occasions. The first wave of primary tackled objectives was home-based care and residential care.

Aged Care Act 1997

With the Aged Care Act 1997, the resolution of the complaints scheme and funding of Advocacy services were introduced on top of what exists from the aged care reforms. Along with building certification, Residential Classification Scale (RCS), Community Aged Care Packages and Extended Aged Care Packages, Aged Care Standards and Accreditation and Ageing in Place. It also sets what the care providers need to do for the elderly under their care. In line with that, it sets down the consequences of failing to meet their responsibilities.

The RCS level, based on the Resident Classification Scale (8 being the highest and one being the lowest), determines the needed funding which is used by both nursing homes and hostels. 

In 2008, the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) changed the system. The Department of Health and Ageing gave out a strategy statement securing the future of Aged Care in Australia.

Commonwealth Home Super (CHSMF)

Fast forward to today, the Australian Government had put up the Commonwealth Home Support Programme to aid the older people independently in their homes and communities as they age. It was developed from a comprehensive consultation process which included advice from the National Aged Care Alliance and the CHSP Advisory Group.

Present moment

Australia’s aged care system touched many lives. In 2017-2018, more than 1.3 million older people received some form of aged care. 783,043 people received home support via the CHSP. 116,843 people received care through a home care package. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *