A GIANT American company that provides services to the lonely, needy and well-heeled elderly is set to take off in Australia, raising questions about the commercialisation of community care.
Home Instead Senior Care, a $A14 billion organisation based in Omaha, Nebraska, has set up a franchised office in Brisbane, and plans to have 70 to 90 offices in Australia in the next six years. It operates in 10 countries.
This would represent the first big influx of private for-profit businesses in community aged care, an area traditionally dominated by the non-profit sector.
Its main role, based on US experience, will be to provide paid companions to isolated elderly people whose adult children are too busy, or live too far away.
US surveys revealed that almost half the elderly clients received only one visit or phone call from a relative or friend a week.
But at a minimum of $60 for a two-hour service, its carers will also do any task from light housekeeping and meal preparation to recording family history and walking the pets.