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Home care reforms need help

A submission to Government has been made by Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) following concern held over ‘significant issues’ with the implementation of the Increasing Choice in Home Care (ICHC) reforms, which were introduced in February.

LASA has made a submission to Government over home care reform concerns (Source: Shutterstock)
LASA has made a submission to Government over home care reform concerns (Source: Shutterstock)

The submission, which was put together with collected input from LASA members and through consultation with other peak bodies, “makes it very clear that the issues need urgent rectification”.

Currently there are around 80,000 home care packages in the community and LASA surveyed just under 20 percent of providers in May as part of their research for the Issues paper.

The survey and other input highlighted three main issues which have been presented in the submission, including: low consumer activation rate, barriers to consumer access to home care package activation, and accumulation of unpaid subsidies from home care package providers.

The submission also details 17 “outstanding implementation issues” which LASA has mapped out against a risk framework to “draw out the most salient issues for Government response”.

LASA Chief Executive Officer Sean Rooney says the three main issues, in particular, are resulting in ongoing unsatisfactory experiences for many home care providers and consumers.

“For many home care providers and their existing clients, there has been little change in the delivery of services,” he says.

“However, the identified implementation issues are making it difficult for some providers in meeting the needs of new or transitioning clients.

“Home care providers have a strong commitment to supporting their clients, attending to both their preferences and needs.

“This is one of the key objectives of the home care reforms, however both providers and their clients have expressed their concerns with continuing implementation problems.”

LASA has enclosed the submission and written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Ministers Ken Wyatt, Alan Tudge and Greg Hunt and the Departments of Health and Human Services.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt says he welcomes the feedback and suggestions within the submission made by LASA.

“The care of older Australians is paramount and the Turnbull Government is committed to supporting them to remain in the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible,” he says.

“We welcome all feedback as the home care reforms bed in, because we are committed to working together with consumers and providers to ensure the aged care system meets the increasing demand for home care.

“Detailed documents like this are valuable and will be used in conjunction with the latest data to make practical and sustainable supply decisions.

“LASA can be confident that we will take this information into consideration as we co-design appropriate supports for providers in the new market-based environment, work with the department’s technology and delivery partners to ensure client and provider issues are resolved, and work to streamline assessment services and improve assessment quality.”

LASA’s Mr Rooney says that a strong focus from Government is needed to understand the issues and then to work with the sector on rectification.

“LASA recognises that the reform agenda in aged care is necessary and ambitious,” he explains.

“The issues paper highlights challenges for older Australians and home care providers alike as they engage with the reformed home care system and provides a framework to consider and resolve these problems.

“In this context the Government needs to transparently engage with the sector as a matter of urgency and work collaboratively with industry to review, resource and rectify these matters to facilitate continued system improvements.

“LASA and our members stand ready to work with the Government and others to resolve the identified issues in the service of older Australians.”

The full submission is available online through the LASA website.

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