As we all know, Australia’s population is ageing. Currently, 3.7 million of us are aged 65 years and over — that’s about one in every seven people. And overall, Australians enjoy one of the highest life expectancies in the world.
The question remains: how and where will we home these millions of future consumers in residences that combine the best of clinical care with compassion and respect for their individual lifestyle choices? Just what is the future for residential aged care?
Head of Procurement at SummitCare, Amar Sharma, says that responsible aged care providers are introducing innovations now while planning for the future.
“As the Baby Boomer generation faces the very real prospect of not only organising their parents’ aged care, but their own as well, the industry should be taking a good hard look at what this means for the quality of residential aged care they provide now and into the future,” he says. Amar adds that many factors need to be considered by nursing homes as they plan. Offering choice is key.
Initially, people want a real ‘home’. Somewhere they are comfortable and cared for, but where they can have flexibility and choice about what they eat, when they sleep and the activities they enjoy.
SummitCare residents thrive in a ‘home’ environment. Each residence is in a suburb of Sydney or Newcastle, right in the heart of local communities, set in tranquil gardens and with all of the comforts residents expect.
Technology will only become more important. Residents will want to enter aged care with a tablet, a smart phone and subscriptions to streaming services.
SummitCare is currently using and examining a number of new technologies. These include use of Virtual Reality, interactive entertainment, an Ipad function that keeps residents and families better connected and to engage in Dementia specific programs Better Visit app developed by Dementia Australia, an array of TV and movie channels, radio and live concert streaming, plus a resident and family electronic message board.
Not only will the residents demand good amenities and the benefits of tech, but they also will expect a better overall lifestyle as well.
SummitCare offers a range of leisure and lifestyle activities that residents are encouraged to participate in, designed to improve their health, wellbeing and connectedness. Cultural and religious celebrations are regularly organised and pet services are offered if residents want to bring their pets with them to live at the home.
SummitCare is also examining state-of-the-art gym areas with instructors and 24 “tipple” menus, ideal for residents to entertain and invite guests over for a glass of wine.
Over the next ten years, hundreds of thousands of us will live in aged care. The sector will need to evolve to meet a range of residential needs.
“Baby Boomers are tech-savvy, well-informed and know what they want,” says Rina Fuimaono, SummitCare’s Regional Manager – Sales, Admissions & Communication.
“They don’t expect a reduction of lifestyle and choices as they age. The residential aged sector has an opportunity to provide genuinely individualised care so each of their residents is free to live the life they choose.”