The Aged Care Legislated review, led by former Secretary of Finance and current Chair of the Aged Care Sector Committee, David Tune, is a five-year review of aged care reforms that comes as part of legislation passed in 2012.
The report includes 38 recommendations that collectively build on reform progress to date with key recommendations including:
- Give older people in residential care ownership of their packages so they can choose the best provider and transfer to another if they are not happy with their care
- Increase access to home care packages, especially higher-level packages
- Improve the capacity and user friendliness of the My Aged Care website, contact centre and assessment services including the publishing of comparable home service prices on My Aged Care
- Improve the sustainability of aged care to meet demand in the future
- Provide consumer support services such as ‘System Navigators’ and ‘Outreach Services’ to help people connect to the aged care they need
The Minister says the review is a “comprehensive and important document that we will consider carefully”.
“We support the overwhelming preference of older Australians to remain living in their homes and in their communities for as long as possible,” he says.
“A key message from the review is that ongoing engagement and collaboration with older people, their carers, families, care providers and aged care staff is vital to ensure we continue to deliver quality support and care – our older Australians deserve nothing less.”
Following the release of the review, the Minister says he is pleased to be announcing the 6,000 extra high need home care packages (Level 3 and 4) and a $20 million My Aged Care revamp following the review.
“As Aged Care Minister, caring for [older Australians] is my top priority, and is a pillar of our government’s policy commitments,” he says.
“The rollout of the 6,000 extra packages starts immediately and will continue right through this financial year because providing more support to the people who need it most is paramount.”
The Minister adds that the initiative aims to speed up home care access for high-priority cases, and will dovetail with significant improvements to the My Aged Care information and care access system.
“The $20 million revamp [of My Aged Care] aims to streamline and shorten the assessment process by linking information and cutting red tape for consumers, providers and health professionals,” he says.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) is among one of the peak bodies who have welcomed the review and some of the Government’s responses.
“The provision of 6,000 additional level 3 and 4 packages to support people with high care needs to continue to live at home is welcomed, but with the growing demand for home care, there needs to be more invested overall,” ACSA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pat Sparrow says.
“The release of this report affords an opportunity for a broad discussion about the sort of care the community, particularly older Australians, expect and how it will be financed into the future.
“That’s why it was disappointing to see the government rule out any changes to the annual and lifetime caps, as well as including the full value of the owner’s home in the means test for residential care.
“By ruling out these two financing options, the government is limiting its own ability as well as that of providers to respond to the changing needs of Australia’s rapidly ageing population.”
Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney welcomes the home care package increase, but says the peak body also notes, with disappointment, the government ruling out some recommendations without due consideration.
“While LASA understands the sensitivities of any potential changes to consumer contributions for age services, the Government’s approach to ruling out any consideration of changes to life time caps and means tests involving the family home, shuts down much needed discussion on how to fund the system now and into the future,” he says.
He adds that the additional home care packages will “ease the frustrations of many older Australians who are unable to access appropriate age services”, but says the increase in supply will not keep pace with the demand and a long term solution needs to be found to ensure appropriate access to home care services for older Australians.
ACSA CEO Ms Sparrow has also echoed this and says Australia needs to have a sustainable, flexible and quality aged care system.
In addition to the immediate home care package increase, and the My Aged Care revamp; Minister Wyatt says he is also “delighted” to announce that Professor John Pollaers has agreed to chair the taskforce to develop a comprehensive aged care workforce strategy.
“The taskforce will consult widely, including with the health and aged care sectors, employee and employer groups, as well as other sectors including disability, education and employment,” he says.
“A well-trained and appropriately qualified workforce is crucial to providing quality aged care services and is essential to support future reform.
“We expect to announce the full membership and terms of reference for the Taskforce shortly.”
The full Tune Review can be found via the Department of Health’s website.