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Share your experiences in accessing rural aged care services

By Vanessa Wiltshire

ARE you aged 65 or older? Have you ever accessed services in Rochester linked to ageing or aged care support?

These could include, but are not limited to, hospital and GP services, district nursing, personal, respite and general home care, home maintenance, meals on wheels, and the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Perhaps you belong to a community group such as U3A (University of the Third Age), which is geared to support and connect people as they grow older.

Whatever the service may be, the team at John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research, La Trobe University, would like to hear from you. Specifically, they would like to hear about your experiences: good, bad or indifferent.

John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research chair and director Irene Blackberry said the research is funded by the Consumer Policy Research Centre. It will contribute to the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

“One of the gaps in the commission is a voice from older rural Australians. This research will help shape it,” Professor Blackberry said.

“The research we are undertaking is based in Victoria. And I must stress, we are not after negative stories, per se. We genuinely want to hear from everyday people and find out what services they are using to help them as they age.

“We want to know: are the services easy to find? Are they inclusive and user friendly? Would you recommend them to a friend? Why or why not?”

Research data will help Prof Blackberry and her team make recommendations about the delivery of services in local communities.

“We want to empower older people to understand what’s available and make access as easy as possible,” she said.

Participation in the study is voluntary, though $100 gift vouchers will be given as thanks.

Interviews commence immediately and the study involves two stages.

Stage 1: Interview with a researcher and keeping a diary for three months about interactions when accessing information about services.

Stage 2: Complete two questionnaires and attend a community meeting (if convenient).

Prof Blackberry encouraged as many residents in Heathcote aged over 65 to consider participating. “People sometimes find it difficult to believe they have something to contribute,” she said. "They do, and we want to hear from them. People like you.”

If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the study, please contact Marita Chisholm, Research Officer, John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research, La Trobe Rural Health School, La Trobe University. Phone: (03) 5444 7277 or email [email protected]