Phillips, L. ‘Rapid Rise in At-Home Care Industry,’ The West Australian, July 26, 2008, p. 14. 

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Demand for at-home care and support is on the rise in WA as members of an ageing population become more determined to retain their independence and live out their days in the comfort of their own homes.
A growing number of service providers are dedicating time and resources to helping seniors stay in the family home while considering their retirement options.

Comfort Keepers managing director Paul Fiddes said the demand for at-home support in Perth was skyrocketing. A combination of pressures on the hospital system, a rapidly ageing population, a lack of available nursing home places and the increased expectations of baby boomers that they would maintain a high level of independence and freedom would see this demand increase further in coming years.

“With major changes in a senior’s life such as the loss of a partner or becoming ill or frail, simple, daily tasks like shopping for groceries and clothing, laundry or housework, personal grooming, collecting medical prescriptions and preparing meals can be overwhelming,” he said. “In-home care is fast becoming a viable and preferred alternative for many people who are looking to maintain their independence at home, but require some assistance and support along the way.”

Mr. Fiddes said at-home support gave seniors and their family members more time and confidence to make decisions about whether to stay in or sell their home.

Many inquiries were received from people looking for at-home care and support while they waited for an opening at their retirement village of choice, or for government funded at-home care to take effect.

He said the company constantly received requests from family members who, because of work and lifestyle commitments, could not provide the level of care and support their parent or parents required and were seeking an alternative to placing their loved ones in a nursing home.

David Stallard, director of the recently established Platinum Care, said demand for at-home services had erupted in recent years, with 30 to 35 percent of his company’s clientele made up of private clients.

“The need is massive. In 18 months we’ve gone from one staff member to over 30 staff. If we could add another 50 good staff tomorrow I’ve got no doubt that we could fill up their week,” he said.

He said most private clients chose to stay at home because it meant they did not feel rushed into selling the family home.

“We have clients who have come to us early on when all they needed was a little bit of help with domestic assistance, and now we are going in every day and night of the week because as the client’s condition changes their needs obviously change,” he said. “Generally people don’t want to go into nursing homes. All the client and staff feedback we get points to the fact that people want to stay in their home as long as possible because they feel that when they go into a nursing home that’s the beginning of the end.”

St Ives Group director Russell Halpern said the majority of his company’s at-home clients were living in their own homes in the wider community.

“People take a great deal from knowing that they can obtain services to stay in their own home,” he said. “Whether they use it or not is irrelevant, just the fact that it is available is of enormous importance to them.”

He said the demand for community care was widespread across both metropolitan and regional WA.

“The demographics are driving demand, there are vastly more people, particularly frail, aged people in their 80s… in need of support today than there was say, 10 years ago,” Mr. Halpern said.

Barbara Davey, managing director of Carealot, said whether it was being visited by an at-home carer or moving into a retirement village, there was a growing trend towards independent living among the ageing population.

“You age at home now,” she said. “People don’t age in nursing homes. When I was a kid you could go to the nursing home when you turned 65. But you don’t any more, you stay at home where you sleep in your own bed and eat your own food, and you have your dog or cat or bird. You don’t become institutionalised. So there is enormous demand (for at-home care) and it will continue as the baby boomers enter the frail stage of life. And people are living longer, too.”

She predicted demand for at-home care, both in the wider community and in retirement villages, would continue to grow for the next 40 to 50 years.

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