Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Spt-Oct 2011 Contents residing in the former principal residence."
Interest paid on the government-backed loan
is set to be kept on par with inflation. The
PC document also placed a strong focus on
enabling older adults to stay in their home for
longer so that the time spent in a residential
aged care facility and costs were kept minimal.
A comprehensive means test, undertaken
through a new Australian Seniors Gateway
Agency by Centrelink, would also be
introduced to assess an individual's rate
of aged care co-contributions. It would be
combined with a mechanism that would allow
people receiving care to continue to use their
house while they could.
Such an initiative, the report stated "...
could form the platform for a change in
attitude towards accepting responsibility for
contributing to one's own aged care costs".
CEO of National Seniors Australia, Michael
O'Neill, supported the recommendations "in
principle," stating those with the financial means
to pay for residential aged care, should do so.
But, he said, "for us it is a question of
"This is one of a range of issues to be
worked through," Mr O'Neill said.
"...In theory, yes, you don't have to sell your
home but that assumes that people will feel
comfortable with reverse mortgages. But a lot
of people won't feel comfortable."
Mr O'Neill also expressed concern for the first
wave of seniors to face the new user-pays system
of aged care. The transition arrangements, he
said, must be worked through and made fair.
"We must accept that people have made
decisions about financial arrangements and
structures based on one set of rules and that
they didn't prepare to pay for their care. It's
unreasonable to change the rules without any
opportunity for [this group of baby boomers]
to have time to adjust to the circumstances to
deal with that.
"So [in adopting these recommendations],
we need to be more generous with the
transition arrangements than not generous."
MORE NITTY GRITTY
The 750-plus page PC report also
recommended that limits on the number of
residential places and care packages should
be phased out, while distinctions between
residential low and high care and between
ordinary and extra service status be removed.
Aged care places should be allocated
according to the age-old rules of demand and
supply and a new market-based system would
see limits on quantities of bed licenses and
care packages lifted with a five-year transition
to an open market.
While meeting the approved quality and
safety standards, and operating within a
price set by the government, providers would
compete on a range of dimensions such as
the professional and relationship skills of
their workforce, the cultural awareness and
languages on offer, the quality of food and
other services and their responsiveness to the
particular requests of individual clients.
In terms of initial client assessments, the report
recommends providers liaise with the gateway but
be able to undertake subsequent assessments in
response to a material change in a client's needs,
subject to a risk management audit process.
Safety and quality standards would be
retained under the recommendations. A newly
established Australian Aged Care Commission
(AACC) would be responsible for quality
and accreditation; and would transparently
recommend efficient prices to the government.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCES
Small but helpful changes mark the major
differences between the draft, released in late
January, and final PC reports.
For example, the final recommended that
a temporary assistance package for small
residential care providers be offered during
the first two years of the transition phase.
The word "fair" was added to the
commission's support for "fair and competitive
wages" in the workforce section. The PC
also included a new recommendation to
independently review the delivery and outcomes
of aged care vocational education and training
courses by registered training organisations.
Palliative care was given more emphasis
too, with the final document stating that
the aged care system "should aim to
be consumer-directed, allowing older
Australians to have choice and control over
their lives and to die well".
The inclusion of the "to die well" phrase
also symbolises an important step for
Palliative Care Australia, which has pushed
for palliative care services to be better
integrated into the broader aged care system.
Lastly, the final report modified some of the
recommendations in the 'Catering for diversity'
chapter. The PC now proposes to provide
block funding of some services but only where
there is a demonstrated need to do so, based
on specific needs (like remote, homeless and
Indigenous aged care services).
It said the aged care standards should also
sufficiently recognise the rights and needs of
older people from diverse backgrounds. n
See pages 68-69 for the PC's technology
recommendations. To view the final report,
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"I think the PC has demonstrated
that they were serious in handling
the responses to the draft and this is
reflected in the fair representation of all
stakeholders." Cynthia Payne
AAA | SEPTEMBER -- OCTOBER 2011 | 17
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