Long-term elder care languishes among the priorities of national healthcare agendas worldwide, according to new report from KPMG’s Global Healthcare practice.
“Compared with other areas of social and medical policy, long-term care has received relatively little attention and investment, which reflects broader attitudes towards seniors,” said Dr Loke Wai Chiong, Director, Global Healthcare Centre of Excellence, KPMG in Singapore, “By ignoring the problem of ageing, societies risk depriving an increasing proportion of their citizens of the basic rights of dignity, respect and healthcare, not to mention the impact on their communities and the economy.”
Needed urgently are major breakthroughs in funding, patient-centred care and programmes to engage communities and ease societal acceptance if effective and affordable seniors care is to aid, and not hinder, thriving economies.
“With the number of people aged 60 and over expected to double to two billion in the next 40 years, the world’s population is ageing at an unprecedented rate, which could lead to unwanted consequences for economies and societies,” said Dr. Loke.
The candid commentary on the current state of eldercare and insights for ways forward are shared in An Uncertain Age: Reimagining Long-term Care in the 21st Century, a report commissioned by the Lien Foundation, a Singapore-based philanthropic organisation and researched by KPMG.
On the challenges facing eldercare systems today, Lien Foundation’s Chief Executive Officer Mr Lee Poh Wah said, “As governments recognise the urgency for improved eldercare, they grapple with issues on cost, competing priorities and questions of sustainability. The answers lie beyond just enhancing quality of care. There is an overwhelming need for greater and easier access, as well as equity in healthcare systems. Respect for personal choices and control, and transparency in the costs of care are other key factors that could successfully transform care outcomes for the future.”
Ultimately, say the report’s 46 contributors, policy makers and eldercare experts must come together to establish necessary frameworks for new solutions and as well as methods for dismantling societal perceptions of ageing.
The current conditions of long-term care which project a dim outlook, according to the report, are poor coordination between healthcare, social services and community involvement, compounded by insufficient standards and legislation and most importantly, the affected individuals’ denial and inattention to his or her realistic needs for long-term care.
The report notes that integrating care - by better coordinating the different healthcare professionals along the long-term care value chain and enabling higher quality, patient centred eldercare – is paramount.
“We have to think about long-term care from the perspective of community-based care and to re-imagine the resources that already exist in the community with a long term care viewpoint. We have to start thinking about how an organisation’s services can be integrated into delivering long term care needs…. in a more efficient and client-centred manner at the community level,” said Michael Adams, Executive Director, Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), in the US.
The ongoing debate over long-term care, the report cites, still centres on the spiralling cost of care and how governments, private sector, society and families should best bear responsibility for it, especially now with the demand for long-term care services imminent. According to a May 2011 Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report, “Sizing Up the Challenge Ahead: Future Demographic Trends and Long-Term Care Costs”, total public spending on long-term care is expected to double from 1.4 percent to 2.8 percent of GDP in OECD member countries by 2050.
The way forward say the report’s thought leaders, calls for enlightened solutions that address the issue across the broad spectrum of funding, patient care, workforce resources, the growing role of the community, and social issues, including the imperative to shift societal and individual notions of the elderly as positive contributors and valued citizens.
Richard Humphries, Senior Fellow, The King’s Fund in the UK said, “There is a tendency to think about the ageing population as a future burden rather than thinking through the opportunities.” The time is ripe to turn those burdens into opportunities.”
About the report
The Lien Foundation commissioned KPMG International to produce “An uncertain age: Reimagining long-term care in the 21st century” to inform and stimulate the global dialogue on long term elderly care.
The report draws insights from 46 thought leaders, professionals and practitioners in the aged care sector across Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Taiwan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Their comments and views were captured through a series of face-to-face and telephone interviews KPMG conducted between August and September 2012.
About the Lien Foundation
The Lien Foundation is a Singapore philanthropic house noted for its model of radical philanthropy. It breaks new ground by investing in innovative solutions, convening strategic partnerships and catalysing action on social and environmental challenges. The Foundation seeks to foster exemplary early childhood education, excellence in eldercare and effective environmental sustainability in water and sanitation. They support innovative models of eldercare, advocate better care for the dying and greater attention on dementia care.
Since 2005, the Foundation has harnessed IT for capacity building and enhanced the quality of care in healthcare nonprofits like hospices and nursing homes. In 2010, the Foundation commissioned the first-ever global Quality of Death index ranking 40 countries on their provision of end of life care. It has published research that unveiled the views and perspectives of doctors and thought leaders on what they thought would improve end-of-life care in Singapore.
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