Future Aged Care in Western Australia

Over the past 20 years Perth has seen a dramatic rise in its population making it one of the fastest growing capitals in Australia. An increasing population and in particular an ageing population is already affecting our housing needs primarily with meeting the demands of our changing demographic that is only going to be more keenly felt in the next thirty years.

According to a Committee for Perth report, the number of people aged over 80 in Perth has increased 127% in the past 20 years. So what does this demographical shift mean for the future of Perth's housing supply and in particular the future housing options that will be more favorable ?

Housing forms a large part of Australias economy and is an integral part of people's wellbeing. In addition to serving the basic need for physical shelter it is a key determinant of people's wealth and more so their financial security in old age.

The vast majority of Australians are living in private dwellings and about 80% of this population own their home. According to the report, Housing Decisions of Older Australians by the Productivity Commission, nearly 75% of those aged over 75 live in detached houses with a similar proportion having residences with 3 or more bedrooms. The report highlights how housing plays an important role as their living standards become more dependent on the nature and quality of their accommodation as they age. Studies conducted by the commission also found that the number of bedrooms a dwelling pertains is less of a concern for older people than the overall design and layout of the house.

Without a doubt the role played by housing and it's desirable characteristics change as a person ages. The over 65 year of age population make up around 27.5% of WA 's total population and statistics reveal that investment back into their homes is one of the biggest trends in expenditure for people aged 65 years and over, spending an average of $80,000 (AUD). The majority of older Australians prefer to age in place however most traditional homes are not able to facilitate ageing in place requiring substantial modification to do so.

To allow for ageing in place within private homes, spaces nee to be accessible and adaptable. Whilst guidelines such as "The liveable and adaptable house" have been published by the Australian government, most existing and new homes do not meet this standards nor are they required to do so posing a greater risk to the health and safety of older Australians.

Furthermore adapting homes to be "elderly friendly" a number of considerations need to be taken into account that range from corridor spaces and ramp/stair access to kitchen and bathroom design and accessibility.

Retirement villages are one such option that are able to meet the needs of an aged population and provide safe and social environments for older Australians. These particular residential typologies can be made up of independent living units and/or serviced apartments. Serviced apartments tend be smaller in size than independent living however tend to provide standard services as part of their fee structure such as meals, offering extra services to assist residents.

Furthermore retirement villages compared to the median dwelling prices within Australian capital cities offer more affordable accomodation options with average national cost of an independent living units just under $400,000 giving the older generation of Australia looking to move into retirement villages an opportunity to release equity tied up in the family home.