The ABC has asked Australians to share their stories of the aged care system, with the aim of uncovering a true picture of the aged care experience in Australia.

The horror stories that emerge from the aged care industry from time to time prompted the ABC to wonder if the industry suffered from the poor work of a “few bad apples”, or was there a more systemic underlying problem?

They decided to go directly to the people to try to find out.

The ABC devised a survey and asked for comments via email to gather information directly from the public.

An industry that touches all Australians

How we look after our elderly is a subject that affects every family at some point; it cuts across all demographics, all regions, all ethnicities – and touches every generation when the issue arises.

In Australia, there are 175,985 people in residential care and 249,000 in care in total.

But for an industry that affects so many, information about aged care can be difficult to find. The ABC felt there was a strong desire for more information – and that systemic problems could be exposed and possibly addressed with greater scrutiny.

The survey

The broadcaster launched the information gathering campaign in April, and asked people to share with them their experiences of residential aged care in Australia.

To get the survey out to the people who were most interested in the topic, the ABC included a link to the survey in a story about staff cuts contributing to the death of an aged care resident.

The survey was also promoted on 7.30, the News Channel, and on local radio, and shared across the ABC’s social media channels.

A hugely important subject to many Australians

When the responses began to flow in, the team at the ABC was surprised by the volume. Almost 4,000 people filled out the survey or took the time and care to write – the topic is clearly hugely important to a great number of people in Australia.

From those stories and information, the ABC will map out the main issues identified, and may follow up with further calls for information.

Stories from the investigation are beginning to be published, and more are yet to come. “The crisis in aged care is real”, wrote the ABC.

Though the journalists say they were overwhelmed by the response, they have made it clear they intend to keep every respondent up to date with the investigation, and to treat them as collaborators in the project.

Though the ABC survey is now closed, if you have information you would like to share with the ABC for their investigation you can email them at aged.care@abc.net.au.

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