The research suggests that a variety of services and amenities were offered in each community. While most people were satisfied with their ability to access the services they required, others identified barriers including geographic distance and a lack of, or limited access to, transport, with some simply preferring to travel further to access the service of their choice. Overall, there was a perception that cities provide better services for older Australians; however, those living in outer suburbs had limited choice in services and amenities, with one driving regular weekly trips up to 14km and occasionally up to 30km from their residence.
"When you are old, you get tired and also you get ill. So we wanted to live in a place which while reasonably quiet and so on, at least is within hopping/crawling distance of some facilities; you know, shops, doctor, transport.” (Participant 9, male, 77 years)
"There's a lot of services that you can get at home. If you can't cook any more, it would be a horror, but there's Meals On Wheels and people who can take you shopping. We often meet people that we know in Woolworths, getting round with someone taking them shopping." (Participant 43, female, 78 years)
So you don't have a specialist out here that can help you? “No, I have to go to Brisbane. Not Toowoomba; I have to go to Brisbane.” (Participant 44, female, 70 years)
“We have been out country living for quite a while but we always said as we got older we would be going back to the city, where you have got the services… [We have] friends at Nambour now and they are having a hassle because they have got to come to Brisbane for doctors and things.” (Participant 3, female, 63 years)
The maps below indicate the importance of understanding personal preferences. While two of the participants resided in the same high density building, only one (during the week of tracking) accessed the nearby services and amenities. The other drove outside of his immediate community for this same purpose.
Map: Case study of a Brisbane high density resident who chooses to access local services. Click on image to enlarge.
Map: Case study of a Brisbane high density resident who chooses to go outside of his immediate community despite a variety of local services being available. Click on image to enlarge.
The following map highlights that while a variety of services may be available within a community, they may be beyond reasonable walking distance for older Australians.
Map: Case study of the local services accessed and other available services within walking distance from one Brisbane resident’s home (two zones represented include one within 5 minutes and the other within 10 minutes walking distance). Click on image to enlarge.
Services accessed include:
Bus stop on Oxley Rd
Available services within 10 mins walk-time:
Fish n Chip take away
Available services outside of 10mins walk-time:
Click on graph to enlarge.
The vast majority were happy with the services available to them, although if they could no longer drive to access them this attitude would likely change.
One participant discussed the frustration with not being able to exercise due to a lack of accessibility to a hydrotherapy pool. The research team investigated this situation and found the closest pool to be up to three bus rides away (depending on the time of travel) plus a long walk .
"The only thing I would like is someone to take me to the hydrotherapy pool. I could get a cab there and back, I suppose. My daughter could take me but that's sort of - to do it well, I need to go at least three days a week and...I don't like to ask too much of her." (Participant 6, female, 71 years)
Another issue is accessible appointment times and opening hours. Living within walking distance of services does not necessarily make them easily accessible.
“The hours just didn't suit. They are only mainly student hours. It's all right if you are not working… We couldn't make a later appointment than that [4.30pm].” (Participant 3, female, 63 years)
"I had a bit of a sore tooth and I went there...and he said, 'Oh, you will have to come another time and we can't do an appointment for 12 months.' I said, 'That's no good to me'." (Participant 8, female, 74 years)
A liveable community needs to have a variety of services and amenities on offer to older Australian's either within their own home, within walking distance of their home or via easily accessible public transport:
health - doctor, dentist, hospital, specialists, pharmacy, hydrotherapy pool
everyday living - grocery store, bank, newsagent, hairdresser, post office
assistance - meals on wheels, domestic help, nursing care recreation - sporting/activity clubs, social clubs, library