Australian experts are rejecting the notion of an "aged care sector", calling on the government to implement a national "ageing strategy" instead.
Leading Age Services Australia chief executive, Sean Rooney, says moving away from the term would see a more holistic approach towards ageing well, taking into account mental health services, social services, housing, and the broader health care system.
The mindset that older people transitioned into a sector cut off from the rest of society was seeing the government focus on putting out "spotfires" in residential and home care. Meanwhile, a crisis of culture and cohesion dominated communities; people saw the sector as a way to deal with the burden of older people.
"It's bigger than aged care," Mr Rooney said.
"An ageing Australia strategy would acknowledge that the population is getting older ... and that's a sign of the success of our society.
"What we need to be doing is working out as a country how we wrap a whole set of services, support and information around those growing numbers of older Australians to enable them to age well.
"You would have a system aligned to delivering [that] outcome ... rather than disparate services dealing with individual symptoms."
While the industry had considered the semantics for years, debate came to a head with revelations the sector was severely underfunded.
Nearly half of Australia's residential aged care facilities were running at a loss as of March this year, while at September 30, 2018, there were 735 people in the ACT waiting on a home care package who had not been offered a lower level package.
More than 97 per cent of those people had been approved for Commonwealth Home Support Program services.
In 2017-18, about 42 per cent of the territory's package-approved older people received theirs within three months. The median wait time for those entering residential care was 301 days.
"What we're dealing with really is the tail end of either conscious or unconscious biases, or prejudice around [older people]," Mr Rooney said.
"The Indigenous population of Australia is the oldest continuing culture on the planet, and central to their core beliefs is respect for their elders.
"So how is it that ... we are having arguments around not caring enough and needing to build a national culture of respect for older people?
"It really is incredulous."
For Watson resident Jill Sutton, the proposed move away from the "institutionalisation" of older people has particular significance.
Both the 78-year-old's father and former husband spent their last days in residential aged care facilities. She describes the experience of living in one as "like a prison sentence".
"Nearly all of us have walked into a loungeroom in a nursing home and we've seen a group of people who don't know each other and can't communicate anymore," she said.
"[They are] sitting around with a television jangling in the corner and absolutely no interpersonal things are happening. Why would we do that?
"Why do we express surprise when one of those poor people, who don't know what they're doing, murders another person?"
Ms Sutton wants to see a system wherein older people are encouraged to stay at home longer - a repeat goal of government policy - but have the practical means to do so through well-funded and effective services and support.
She believes older people's communities and families should rally around them to keep them out of residential aged care facilities, and the concept behind them is inherently flawed.
"We've got all these people needing our care and shoving them all into ghettos is totally counterproductive," Ms Sutton said.
"It's cheaper and it's more humane to help people stay in their own neighbourhood.
"I think it's also a tremendous opportunity to develop a service economy."
Former deputy chairman of the Productivity Commission, Mike Woods, co-wrote the Caring for Older Australians report in 2011. It led to the overhauling of the aged care sector and set the policy agenda for a consumer-driven market.
Professor Woods said legislation up to this point had been a "progression" towards the concept of ageing well over aged care. He was preparing an impact analysis for the government about a proposal to replace the existing residential aged care allocation model.
"If, following that impact analysis, the government chooses to pursue that reform, that would free up approved providers to go to any area that they wish and offer residential care services," he said.
"Consumers ... [would be able to] choose the provider that best meets their needs."
Professor Woods agreed aged care was "segmented" from the rest of society, and said integrated services for older people needed to be abundant.
"You've got to allow the market to [provide them] wherever possible," he said.
The Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Richard Colbeck, was unavailable for comment.