Aged care expert disappointed in Australia

An aged care expert from Wales has told a royal commission hearing in Perth that she was surprised and disappointed with some things she saw in Australian care.

An international aged care expert has told a royal commission she was disappointed with some aspects of the system in Australia.

Social Care Wales assistant director Lisa Trigg said that included seeing people sharing rooms, which she said had not happened in the UK for almost 20 years unless it was a couple or best friends.

Dr Trigg, who has lived in Australia, told the aged care royal commission in Perth on Friday she was surprised by some things she observed in Australia while conducting her research.

"Having seen that 98 per cent of providers passed accreditation, I had this idea that, oh my goodness, it's going to be so much better, and that wasn't my perception by the end of my stay," she said.

"Certainly what I saw in Australia, I found it very disappointing.

"I came thinking I'm going to find out how it should be done and I didn't."

But she did acknowledge there were good examples of residential aged care in Australia too.

Dr Trigg wrote a PhD thesis titled "Improving the quality of residential care for older people: A study of government approaches in England Australia".

She also noted there had been an emphasis in the UK for flashy, boutique-style homes.

"Those places feel like hotels, they don't feel like the places where people want to live the last few years of their lives," she said.

"It would be unfair to say that care is much better in either place.

"We also have lots of problems with care quality in the UK, even though most care is acceptable or good."

This week the commission examined "person-centred care" but Dr Trigg said she preferred the term "relationship-centred care".

The term "relationship-centred care" promoted a sense of security, belonging, continuity and achievement for the resident, their families and carers.

Dr Trigg also distinguished between treating a person as a patient, consumer and individual.

In her statement, Dr Trigg said many issues facing aged care arose from entrenched ageism, and systemic ageism more broadly.

"The quality of life for our older people should not only be the preserve of formal care providers," she said.

"Delivering true relationship-centred quality requires the wider involvement of our communities and a seismic shift in attitudes towards our older people."

The commission will resume on July 8 in Darwin, followed by hearings in Cairns.

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