Aged Care Accommodation Revolution Required
30 June 2008 at 4:10 pm
Australia’s baby boomers will revolt if large institutions are the only option available to them in 15-20 years time, according to international expert on aged accommodation, Dr Hans Becker.
Dr Becker pioneered a successful housing and care scheme for older people called Apartments for Life in Holland in the mid 1990s.
He says Dutch older people said no 15 years ago to old style nursing homes and hostels as the only alternatives for when they get to the age they want help to do the things they can’t do on their own.
He says that push-back was from people in their 70s and 80s, and some much younger, demanding they be able to go on living independently and stay part of their long time community when their health declined and they could no longer get around as they used to.
Dr Becker says the same will happen here in Australia.
Dr Becker is the Chair of the Humanitas Foundation which introduced and manages the Apartments for Life program in Rotterdam. He is a Professor of Humanising of Care at Utrecht University and an Instructor in Executive Education at Harvard University.
He is in Australia as a guest of The Benevolent Society.
The Federal and NSW governments have taken a keen interest in the Apartments for Life model as offering greater choice for older people and, importantly, the potential for considerable savings in the aged care budget.
The Humanitas Foundation started its Apartments for Life program with 350 apartments in three complexes in 1995; it now has 13 complexes holding 1,700 apartments, covering some 2,550 residents.
Dr Becker says the Apartments for Life model includes carefully designed apartment complexes, lived in and partly run by independent older people, and offering services on a needs basis. These include medical, daily care, recreational, educational and social, up to and including nursing home type care.
He says the Apartments for Life philosophy has four basic values – autonomy, active participation, the yes culture, the extended family approach.
The Benevolent Society, described as Australia’s oldest charity, is planning to introduce Australia’s first Apartments for Life complex in Bondi. Forty per cent of the apartments will be dedicated to pensioners and low-income tenants.