The final report answers the question of how to reform today’s system, but the question that looms in baby boomers’ minds is: “How do we want to age and die in the future?”
Our approach to aged care can only be fit for the future if we have a national conversation about what that future should look like, and take intentional steps to get there.
We need to start talking about:
- What status do we want older people to have in our society?
- What are the options for where, how and with whom we live?
- What do we want our neighbourhoods to look like?
- What’s the future of care work?
- How do we want to experience dying and death?
- What services and products might support us to live the life we want to lead?
Without pursuing future-focused reforms alongside current system improvement, we’ll anchor ourselves in the past, rather than pull ourselves into the future. Only through future-focused research and development do we ever stand a chance of genuinely meeting the needs and aspirations of the baby boomer generation, and the generations that follow.
These conversations require imagination, and they need to include older people, the next generation, the aged care industry, and the future providers of services and support in later life. Public deliberative processes, like the recent Citizens Convention for Climate in France – which shaped the nation’s approach to climate change – provide a practical model of how to do this in a way that creates an authorising environment for politicians to embrace new alternatives on contested issues.