Home care/finance sectors need age friendly revamp: researchers

Complex, condescending, unfriendly: home care and finance sectors slammed in UniSA report


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GOBBLEDYGOOK: The home care and banking/finance sectors are too complex for many seniors.

GOBBLEDYGOOK: The home care and banking/finance sectors are too complex for many seniors.

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Host of problems: Banks and home care providers need to become more age-friendly, say researchers

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CONDESCENDING staff, gobbledygook language, too-small print, high-pressure sales, impossible to understand foreign call centres - Australia's home care and banking and finance sectors have come in for some strong criticism for their lack of age-friendliness.

According to a report from the University of South Australia older Australians have been left feeling disempowered and lacking in confidence due to the complexities of the two sectors. 

Research explored both the ability of people aged 65 plus to select and financially manage their home care packages; and older people's experiences and engagement with the banking and finance industry, most commonly with products and services such as loans, credit cards, advice and bank accounts.

Lead researcher, Braam Lowies said while the government had recently increased total aged care spending to $662 million, including the release of 10,000 additional home-care packages ­– the environment in which the packages are provided was so complicated that many older Australians were unsure of which options best suit their personal situation.

“Home-care packages support people to stay in their own homes for longer, so they are a really appealing option for people as they age or become less independent,” Dr Lowies said.

“But our research found that older people felt insecure about their capacity to manage home-care packages to their best advantage and we wanted to understand why.

I got one hell of a fright when I realised how much I was paying every day when I wasn't having any care on those days, I didn't think that was very fair but I've had to accept that's how it works. - UniSA survey respondent

“We found a host of problems from a general lack of confidence and lack of knowledge of the system among older people, to overly complicated communications, high staff turnover and inadequately trained staff providing in home care, inconsistencies in package administration, confusing fee structures and even inaccurate billing processes.”

“Unfortunately, the more complicated and inaccessible the programs are, the more it creates a lack of confidence and motivation for older people accessing services."

The banking and finance industry also came in for criticism with the researchers finding older people faced numerous problems in their financial dealings from having trouble understanding foreign voices at overseas call centres and reading tiny print on documents to complicated terms and condition, poor communications by staff and high pressure sales techniques.

The researchers believe both the in home care and finance/banking  sectors were in need of an age-friendly revamp with more older-customer focussed services and better staff training.

T&Cs are gobbledegook! Never say it in 2 words if you can say it in 500! - UNiSA survey respondent

“It is key that institutions find ways to become more age-friendly and commit to making the changes that will deliver services that are more customer-focussed,” said Dr Lowies.

The full report The Financial Capability of Older People can be read at: unisabusinessschool.edu.au/financial-capability

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