That is the equivalent of the city of Port Macquarie now. But at the moment, aged care, which is residential care and home and community care like Meals on Wheels and that kind of stuff, comprises 3 per cent of the entire Federal budget. If it continues, by 2050 it will comprise 9 per cent of our entire budget.

Contrast that with the United States, where some states already have aged care as their number one expenditure. It is now the single largest state expenditure in Connecticut, for example. So over the next four years, the Rudd Government will inject $40 billion into aged care. And 28.6% of that will be into aged care facilities. At the moment in Australia there’s 2870 nursing homes, providing 170,000 beds.

In the last month or so we’ve done research on the attitudes of people who are in their 60s and 70s about where they want to go. The average age of a person in aged care is 82 years of age. And most people go into aged care when they’ve had a significant incident in their life such as a spouse or carer die, or an injury. And they usually go into low care, and then they go into high care, and then unfortunately they die. But most people want to stay in their homes and live independent lives. And that’s where our government direction is going.

Amanda White: Deirdre are you seeing an increase in expectations from those entering your facilities?

Deirdre Ashe: Absolutely. And not only expectations of the resident going in but the resident’s family as well. They’re looking for a good quality of life for their parent, to make sure they’re very comfortable. So single bed, en suite, perhaps even a small sitting area in residential aged care. And at least two to three bedrooms in independent living units, if they’re going to forsake their family home.

Walter Secord: You go to some of the Baptist centres and they’ll have a room with a wall that will move away. So a husband and wife can live together. He may have dementia or Alzheimer’s and she’ll need time away from him, but she wants to be with him. So there’s been all these designs.

Deirdre Ashe: I think the new design for residential aged care also is moving away form the large auditorium sitting room where everybody had to come together. And it recognises that, you know, people don’t like to congregate in large groups.

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