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Reviewing aged care reviews – where to now?

Several reviews have been released over the last few weeks relating to a number of pressing issues in aged care. There was the David Tune Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017, looking at the impact and effectiveness of the Government’s aged care reform changes to date, the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) review, and only last week Kate Carnell AO and Ron Paterson ONZM released their report examining the National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes in response to the Oakden scandal.

David Tune, author of one of the recent aged care reviews under scrutiny (Source: Supplied)
David Tune, author of one of the recent aged care reviews under scrutiny (Source: Supplied)

At The Next Phase of Aged Care Reform conference, a joint initiative from Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Council on the Ageing (COTA), held in Sydney last week, both provider and consumer peak bodies shared their views on the reports with an audience of industry leaders, and their perspectives on how they see aged care moving forward.

ACSA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pat Sparrow says much of the reviews are the same. They’re about giving consumers more choice and control and the core of it is about sustainability of the sector and improving community confidence.

“They are really important reviews for us and they come at an important time in aged care,” Ms Sparrow told delegates at the conference.

The industry is now looking at Government and what changes will be made in response to the reviews.

Ms Sparrow explains that for ACSA a number of core principles are important when it comes to any future changes. Funding needs to be outcome focused, it needs to provide support for all consumers and look at longer term planning as well as episodic care.

The organisation would like to see a transparent and simplified processes that offers value for money and affordability.

“Whatever the changes are, they need to meet those principles,” Ms Sparrow says.

She also stresses the wider community has expectations about what aged care should and shouldn’t be, and “we need to have a conversation what the community expects and what providers are funded to deliver”.

Whilst supportive of the reports, Ms Sparrow questions some of the recommendations in the Carnell/Paterson report – for example if a new aged care commission will add cost to the system and if unannounced visits to high risk facilities will actually fix the problems that occurred at Oakden?

She also says that greater reporting and more transparency doesn’t necessarily result into greater protection of consumers.

“Without increased investment and community consultation the problems will remain.”

“Reviews can make useful suggestions and improvements to the existing systems but at the end of the day we need community alignment.”

According to COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates the Government now needs to articulate the sequencing and the steps of where aged care is heading.

He says the Tune report is a confirmation of 'Living Longer Living Better' and choice and control and it “has a reasonable balance between short and longer term goals.”

An important issue for COTA is the need for increased home care in the short and long term as Mr Yates addresses the current shortfall of 53,000 packages especially in the higher need end.

Affordability of residential aged care places is another key issue for COTA as well as more transparency and comparability of data.

“People with the capacity to pay should contribute more so that the system can provide across a whole,” Mr Yates says.

“We need to encourage a public debate about some of these high level issues."

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