Aged care access, choice and sustainability will be improved: CHA

20/04/2012

More older Australians will be able to receive aged care in their own home, and sustainability of residential aged care services will improve, but the success of today’s aged care reform proposals will be determined by the willingness of Government to allow its new implementation council to deliver real reform.

Today’s announcements, which deliver an average of $115 million in new funding each year, have been welcomed by Catholic Health Australia (CHA), the nation’s largest network of non-government aged care services, but its CEO Martin Laverty said care quality improvements will take some years to deliver.

“Not everything the Productivity Commission proposed has been endorsed, but the Government has set a path for structural change over the next decade, and we’ll work with the Government to achieve aged care improvement in the interests of older Australians,” Mr Laverty said.

“The CHA-commissioned Grant Thornton report of February revealed it costs a provider an average of $60 per day to operate a residential aged care bed. We welcome the Government’s measures that will increase daily accommodation payments from the current $32.58 to $52.84 for residential services meeting certain quality standards.

“The introduction of new payment options for those who can afford to contribute to the cost of their accommodation will also lead to improvement in the quality and sustainability of residential aged care services.

“Over time, the number of people accessing care will also improve. Today, 113 people per thousand aged over 70 are able to access care. Over 10 years, that number will increase to 125. The Government didn’t go as far as we’d wanted to make aged care an entitlement to all assessed as in need, but more care places over the coming years, particularly in a person’s own home, is welcome.”

The detail the Aged Care Reform Implementation Council will need to focus on includes:

  • The new rating system of aged care services that will be published on a new My Aged Care website
  • The Workforce Compact, which will tie payments to aged care providers to improved wages and conditions for aged care staff
  • How the Aged Care Financing Authority will base approval of prices for aged care services on the actual cost of delivering them

“We understand many in coming days will focus on changes to means testing for consumer contributions to care and accommodation. The Government has done a good job in shaping how those who can afford to contribute will, while also improving funding for those who cannot,” Mr Laverty said.

“Any debate on means testing must not overshadow the improvements today’s announcements will enable such as improved palliative care, better support for low-income earners, and support for disadvantaged groups – improvements which won’t get the headlines they deserve.”

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