Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2015 Contents Chief executive of Council
on the Ageing Australia
(COTA) Ian Yates said he
welcomed the future directions
set out by Senator Fifield's
speech, noting his remarks were
consistent with the government's
election policy to move to greater
implementation of the PC's
recommendations, which had
strong COTA and NACA support.
Mr Yates said the most
important step was to place
full control over package care
resources with the consumer.
"Current CDC arrangements are
a half-way house that creates
unnecessary complications that
giving consumers full control will
resolve. This principle also needs
to be extended to residential
care -- give the bed licences to
the consumers and let providers
attract them with good facilities
and services," he said.
Bringing home care packages
and the Commonwealth
Home Support Program into
a consolidated program had
also been recommended by
NACA and was a very welcome
direction, Mr Yates said.
"We also welcome the
foreshadowed limited movement
on freeing up the supply side in
residential care. COTA's position
remains that recommended
by the PC that supply side
constraints should be lifted and
the only requirement for access
to either a funds package or a
bed licence in the hands of the
consumer is assessed need
through a government mandated
Mr Yates said the inclusion
in My Aged Care of consumer
driven quality indicators was a
key promise in Living Longer
Living Better, which had "slipped
back in priority and scheduling."
He welcomed the senator's
commitment to quality ratings and
to discussing a broader quality
reporting role for My Aged Care.
Paul Sadler, CEO of
Presbyterian Aged Care, said
the government's commitment
to merging home care and home
support into a single system
would be a significant milestone
for the sector and would achieve
a key plank of the NACA vision.
However, he said the sector
would need to be cautious about a
blanket approach to individualised
funding in a single home care
system. "We do need to increase
the amount of individualised
funding, but there will also be
a continued role for block
funding," he said. "Some service
types don't really lend themselves
to individualised funding."
Mr Sadler said in a system
where service rationing was
removed, the assessment process
and the level of funding available
to consumers are the primary
mechanisms for controlling service
demand and government costs.
"How that is constructed and
managed is where the discussion
needs to take place," he said.
Mr Sadler said the Federal
Government needed to begin
a process of constructive
engagement with the sector in
order to work out the detail of the
"While broadly I'd welcome the
minister's statements, they are still
at such a high level that they could
mean almost anything in practice
at the moment. We need to see an
engagement with the sector on what
they might mean and, hopefully, if
we do that collaboratively, we will
come up with a new generation
approach to aged care that moves
well beyond the Living Longer Living
Bruce Bailey, director of
accounting firm RSM Bird
Cameron, said the minister's
comments were broadly consistent
with the recommendations of the
PC's 2011 inquiry, and the direction
set in the subsequent Living
Longer, Living Better reforms.
If properly managed these
measures would move aged
care from a regulatory-based to a
customer focussed environment,
he said. However, he cautioned
that while the market works well in
major population centres it may not
be as effective in other areas, such
as regional and country areas.
Asked what he would like to
see from government in terms of
moving towards implementing
these changes, Mr Bailey said
that policy uncertainty was the
great inhibitor to market action.
Bupa aged care managing
director Louis Dudley said
Bupa was always supportive of
measures that increased flexibility
and choice for consumers and that
older people's needs should be
kept at the centre of any reforms.
"Any reforms must ensure that
elderly people and their families
are provided with the support
they need, and that there are
appropriate mechanisms in place
to ensure they are protected from
unintended consequences that
negatively impact quality care,"
he said. "To do this, it is vital
the government, carers, families
and consumers continue to
work together to ensure that
reforms are designed and
implemented carefully." n
What the minister said
Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield outlined
the government's agenda to give consumers greater control
over their home care packages, including budget holding to
allow consumers to "direct how and with whom" their funding
entitlement is spent.
Like the NDIS, Senator Fifield said that aged care's
"time has come" for funding to follow the consumer rather
than the provider.
In residential care, Senator Fifield said the government
supported a rethink of planning ratios and freeing up the supply
of aged care places "within the existing taxpayer envelope."
Senator Fifield said he supported easing government
regulation to allow residential care providers to make business
decisions about where to build a facility and then allow
providers to attract customers through price and service.
While he acknowledged that not all areas of Australia could
deliver this form of market-based aged care, he said where the
market could work it should be allowed to.
SINGLE COMMUNITY CARE SYSTEM
In a noteworthy development, Senator Fifield stated his support
for a consolidated home support and home care program,
another key item on NACA's wish list.
In a significant change to My Aged Care, Senator Fifield also
announced the government would expand My Aged Care to
list all aged care services from 1 July 2015, whether or not they
were government funded.
A TRIP ADVISOR FOR AGED CARE
Senator Fifield said a Trip Advisor-style My Aged Care would
also develop quality ratings for providers and their services
according to "what matters to consumers rather than what
departments and providers think they should be."
While the minister did not commit to a timeframe for this next
wave of reform, he wanted the conversation to start before the
legislated five-year review.
Assistant Minister for Social
Services at CEDA in Sydney
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