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Australian aged care needs radical overhaul to meet baby boomer demands, according to new survey

The findings of a report launched today suggests that the aged care industry in Australia needs to undergo a major transformation if it is to meet the growing demands of the next wave of retirees – the so-called Baby Boomer generation.

Fujitsu Australia Limited

Sydney, October 16, 2007

The findings of a report launched today suggests that the aged care industry in Australia needs to undergo a major transformation if it is to meet the growing demands of the next wave of retirees – the so-called Baby Boomer generation. The survey of 1,291 Australians between the age of 58 and 61, which was conducted by UltraFeedback on behalf of Fujitsu Australia, portrays a generation who intend to work longer and live independently, yet believe that their available accommodation choices are either limited (30 per cent) or that they have no choice at all (11 per cent).

According to the report A Generational Shift: The Next Wave of Aged Care, in addition to the aged care industry, the government must also be in tune with consumer expectations and the resulting implications of this next wave of aged care to provide appropriate funding.

The survey reveals that 47 per cent of respondents would ideally like to live independently when they reach a point where they may need some help with daily activities. This compares to eight per cent who would ideally like to live in a nursing home or communal village.

Indeed, many Baby Boomers (27 per cent) expect to continue working, at least part time, well into their 70s while 12 per cent expect to work “until they drop”.

When asked what their greatest fears were, 79 per cent of respondents said “not being able to care for myself anymore”, followed by “having to live in an aged care home against my choice” (57 per cent) and “a lack of money to choose what I want” (45 per cent).

According to Jeff Smoot, Health Industry Director, Fujitsu Australia, trends such as the ageing population and rising care costs due to chronic disease management, mean that delivering aged care is becoming an increasingly important and challenging component of an integrated health-delivery system.

“The manner in which the first wave of Baby Boomers is approaching impending retirement will change aged care service delivery dramatically,” said Mr Smoot. “Baby Boomers are better educated, healthier, more active and have higher expectations than previous generations. The lifestyles they intend to lead as they grow older and their associated support needs will also be very different. Aged care providers need to take immediate action to develop a business strategy to prepare for this fundamental shift.”

When asked what were the most important factors in terms of their projected living arrangements in ten years’ time, an overwhelming 92 per cent of respondents said that a sense of privacy was a high or very high priority, followed closely (84 per cent each) by being close to family and friends, and feeling part of a community. City respondents wanted to be close to public transport (78 per cent) while rural respondents (52 per cent) considered pets more important.

The report also found that Baby Boomers are enthusiastic adopters and users of technology. However, many aged care providers still assume the elderly are technology averse.

“The notion that older people do not use technology is out of date and unrealistic. Baby Boomers experience technology innovation every day in their cars, computers and home appliances. They will expect care providers to fully exploit mainstream consumer technology to address their changing lifestyle preferences and needs,” said Mr Smoot.

This expectation means that technologies such as home monitoring devices and health sensors can be effectively used for health monitoring and communication with remote support service providers.

Jeff Smoot continued, “This research proves that Baby Boomers are not happy with the status quo and that they want greater innovation and choice from aged care providers. Yet innovation in aged care service models is constrained by funding and regulatory criteria. Providers will need to ‘think outside the box’ to continue to develop the relevant home care services that will appeal to Baby Boomers. They should also consider investing in stand-alone facilities that provide more single rooms or units and better accommodate active individuals who may want to work or leave for holiday periods if they so desire.

“New technology promises to transform the delivery of aged care. But technology alone cannot yield bottom-line results unless providers consider all elements of business change,” concluded Mr Smoot.

The Study

A Generational Shift: The Next Wave of Aged Care is based on a national online survey of 1,291 people aged between 58 and 61. It was conducted in July 2007 by specialist healthcare research company UltraFeedback on behalf of Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand and was geographically diverse and gender neutral. The aim of the study was to understand the thinking of these future potential users of aged care services.

Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand

Fujitsu is a full service provider of information technology and communications solutions. Throughout Australia and New Zealand we partner with our customers to consult, design, build, operate and support business solutions. From strategic consulting to application and infrastructure solutions and services, Fujitsu has earned a reputation as the single supplier of choice for leading corporate and government organisations. Fujitsu Australia Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fujitsu Limited of Japan. For more information, please see:

About Fujitsu Limited

Fujitsu is a leading provider of customer-focused IT and communications solutions for the global marketplace. Pace-setting device technologies, highly reliable computing and communications products, and a worldwide corps of systems and services experts uniquely position Fujitsu to deliver comprehensive solutions that open up infinite possibilities for its customers' success. Headquartered in Tokyo, Fujitsu Limited (TSE:6702) reported consolidated revenues of 5.1 trillion yen (US$43.2 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2007.
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Date: 16 October, 2007
City: Sydney
Company: Fujitsu Australia Limited