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Today, the government of Australia released their blueprint for reform of the aged care sector.  The proposal would strengthen government support of in-home care, increase wages for care workers and increase government funding for dementia care.  While the plan tightens means-testing for elder care, Prime Minister Julia Gillard contends that means-testing increases fairness. The plan introduces more payment flexibility, changing the current system which requires up- front payments, to one in which users may pay either with a lump sum or over time.   Interested in learning more? Check out the full report.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Photo courtesy  MystifyMe Concert Photography™

The Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs, Li Liguo recently spoke at the National Social Work Conference, focusing on pension development and reform.  This conference also discussed the need to develop an aged care sector in China, complete with residential and skilled care. Commentator Chen Jinsong,  reflected on the current challenges stating “To solve the pension crisis, we must establish a system that is more specialized, standardized, with trained practitioners and sufficient beds to meet the demand”.  Investors see China as a hot market for aged care services, and partnerships and investment deals emerge on an almost daily basis. Interested in learning more about aged care in China? Consider joining the SAGE Study Tour in June.

The video below highlights some of the amazing sights that China has to offer.

The Australian Counsel on the Ageing and the Department of Health and Ageing released results on a national listening tour on concerns surrounding aged care. The Minister of Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, participated in over 30 meetings with concerned citizens throughout the country. The conversations yielded some valuable insights, such as the fact that most Australians state that they would like to remain in their homes and receive services at home if possible. People also want a system that is easy to understand and use, and they want payment procedures to be transparent. Interested in the full report? Just click here.

Want to learn more about housing with wrap around services? Consider joining our study tour.

Photo Courtesy of  mugley.

A new paper by Peter Beresford shares the results of a survey executed in November 2011, that was undertaken by Shaping Our Lives (a national network of service users). The project received financial support from Joseph Rowntree Foundation as a part of its commitment to ensure the voices of service users are heard in national debates on social care reform.

While the sample size was small (27 people) the respondents represent a diverse range of independent adult social care service users from different areas in England.

The consultation covered the six issues identified by the government last fall including quality of support, personalisation and choice, prevention and early intervention, service integration, care market challenges and funding of social care. Participants felt that the current system is patchy, faces strong pressures, and is unsuited to deliver quality support despite the commitment of workers. Additionally, they perceived a threat from reduced public spending and inadequate support infrastructure. Many were strongly opposed to privatisation, citing unfavourable treatment of disabled people by insurers as cause for concern. People also wanted to report the damaging effects of reductions in services and support. They felt the debates about welfare reform is having a corrosive effect, stereotyping disabled people as” scroungers’ or ‘a drain on society’. This was creating anxiety and despair, with people feeling scared and insecure.

JRF’s position on the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations differs from the views expressed through the survey. JRF strongly supports the Dilnot proposals as a road map to reform social care funding. JRF also supports the development and piloting of a new equity release product for ‘cash-poor, asset-rich’ older home-owners so they can improve their quality of life. Although JRF has a different view on how funding should be reformed, much of  their wider evidence chimes well with other views expressed. JRF shares the conviction that those who use care and support need to be involved in transforming social care.

Photo courtesy garryknight.

Feros Care is set to boost their presence in the Hastings area with the official opening of a service hub in Port Macquarie.  Here are some fabulous pictures from the inauguration!



By the year 2050, the number of seniors in China will exceed the entire population of the United States. As the government of China comes to terms with this reality, private investors are sizing up the market for senior housing and services. Recently, Columbia Pacific and Emeritus Corporation joined with Cascade Healthcare to develop assisted living and senior housing facilities in China.

“The need for senior care in China is staggering,” said Dan Baty, a principal investor in Columbia Pacific Advisors and Chairman of Emeritus. “Over the next 10 years, China’s senior population will grow to 280 million people according to its census, and there are virtually no senior care facilities. It has long been a tradition in China that the family cared for the elderly in the home, but the rapidly expanding economy dictates that people now need more help to provide for the elderly.”

While the market may be huge, there is currently a lack of elder care facilities, regulations, and training opportunities in elder care so establishing new facilities will be a challenge. Is your organisation  considering investment in China? What obstacles do you foresee as China’s aged care sector evolves?

Photo courtesy mattwl

People living with dementia can benefit emotionally and physically from animal companionship according to several studies. Benefits include improved cardiac function, reduced aggression, and an increase in verbal or social interactions. The exact mechanisms that govern the causal pathways of animal therapy are still being investigated. However, exisiting evidence is encouraging, and there is practical guidance for facilities who wish to develop an animal visitation program or establish an in-facility pet. The main ways to incorporate animal companionship into the care home setting is either through 24 hour live-in pets or through regularly scheduled animal therapy sessions. If you are planning to have an in-facility pet, there are some important considerations to consider before the pet arrives.

  • How will the pet’s needs for food, physical activity, and veterinary care be provided?  Responsibility for pet oversight needs to be clear among staff.
  • What are the facility rules for the pet? Residents and staff need to know where and when the pet will be fed to avoid overfeeding.
  • Does your pet have his or her own space? Most likely your pet will need a place to call his or her own, and will also need to be kept out of dining areas during meals.
  • Do you have any residents who might me allergic to the pet? It is important to consult with your medical director and review your regional laws and regulations on residents and therapy animals.

If an in-facility pet is not a practical consideration for your organization, you might consider bringing in therapy animals as a part of your activities plan. Animal assisted therapy allows animals to be used in therapeutic activities such as psychological or physiotherapy sessions. Animal visitation programmes aim to provide a positive environment where residents are able to connect with the animal, experience the tactile stimulation of touching the animal, and stimulate verbalization through communication with the pet. A specially trained animal therapist can bring the pet to your facility and oversee group or individual visitation sessions. Many of the same safety and health concerns that pertain to live-in pets also pertain to visitation. Visiting animals might be a better option for large facilities, where care of the animal might be difficult to assign and having a greater number of residents increases the odds that any one resident suffers from severe allergies.

Would your community adopt a pet or bring in outside animals for visits? What thoughts do you have on the regulatory burden animals might pose or the benefits they might offer to dementia sufferers?

Photo courtesy cielokatie

Ageing in place is a concept that is frequently discussed, but yet not all organizations are taking steps to make it possible. Losing the ability to drive is a main push factor that causes rural seniors to have to move. There are a variety of ways that this problem can be overcome. Organisations can offer shuttle bus services for seniors;  buses pick seniors up and transport them to grocery stores or day centres. Offering the service to multiple clients can keep prices reasonable for seniors while still being profitable for the organization. Alternately some organisations have organized volunteer driver programs. Using community based volunteers with autos, individuals pick up the senior and drive them to their activity or errand. Organizations charge the elder a small fee for this service to cover the cost of background checks on the driver and coordinating the driving schedule.  Delivering services at home through information and communications technologies is another manner to overcome transportation issues.  Examples of this include physiotherapy delivered through Skype sessions or vital sign monitoring transmitted to a nurse through a telehealth unit. Looking for more great ideas to incorporate into your homecare service? Join us on our Housing with Services tour this fall to see how Peter Sanborn Place, Hebrew Senior Life, and Cathedral Square keep their clients safe, healthy and engaged in the comfort of their own homes.

Photo courtesy of  Johnny Söderbergs nya

The International Dementia Excellence Awards (IDEA) are designed to recognise organisations and individuals who have worked hard to improve the quality of life of people with dementia. The awards are a celebration of the important efforts undertaken to support people who struggle with dementia. Nominations are currently being accepted in the following categories; dementia and the arts, life engagement, employee of the year, team of the year, volunteer of the year, researcher(s) of the year, dementia design innovation of the year, and risky business. For more information or to nominate, visit the Dementia Services Development Centre website.  The awards will be presented during the ‘Risky Business’, International Dementia Conference, in Sydney, Australia in June 2012. The conference is aimed at all those who support people with dementia.

Photo courtesy of and Ambro.

In the fall of 2011 AARP International teamed up with former Mexican president Vicente Fox and the Rand Corporation to examine issues Mexico will face as it undergoes demographic transition. Like many other low and middle-income countries, a large percentage of Mexico’s labour force works in the informal sector and doesn’t have protection of social insurance schemes.  As access to basic sanitation and health care have expanded, people are able to live longer, but may continue to work until they develop physical incapacity in order to maintain some type of income. Overall, the report estimates that the percentage of people over age 65 will increase by 232% by 2040 and that a total of 250 million people will be over age 65 and not be covered by either a pension or health scheme.  The Mexican government is working to expand social protections and increase awareness of the rights of  older people. Check out this video documenting achievements and successes to date.

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

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Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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