Recently Minister for Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM, MP made several announcements. They concern funding and packages for Home Care and My Aged Care. You can read about this in our recent article on the Tune Report. Here, leading aged care industry figures respond with their thoughts.
Aged Care Lobby Group Response
Aged Care Lobby Group (www.ACLG.com.au*) CEO Jerome Rault has responded with limited support for the latest announcement. He claims that the problem is not the announcement of more packages. Rather the problem is the allocation of those beds in an urgent fashion. “Families who need this support need it now. I hear of people waiting several months or longer, anecdotally, and that is a real concern”, says Jerome. “Whilst announcing package increases is welcome, releasing the funds to families is the key. Therefore, the question is, when will the funds and these packages actually be available to needy families”?
Furthermore, Mr Rault points out that a dialogue needs to open around lifetime caps and means tests involving family homes. “It is clear that future funding is going to tie into these issues. It makes sense to begin that discussion now. As such, the Government’s refusal to consider any change in these areas is limiting how funding models can adapt to the rising number, and cost, of elderly people needing care in Australia”.
Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) responded to the release of the Tune Report. They welcomed the review and some of the Government’s responses. Chief Executive Officer, Pat Sparrow said “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. 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.”
Families who need this support need it now. I hear of people waiting several months or longer, anecdotally, and that is a real concern
“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 welcomed the home care package increase. However, he commented that LASA is disappointed with the government ruling out some recommendations without due consideration. Mr Rooney said, “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 lifetime 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 added 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. Furthermore, he believes a long-term solution needs to be found to ensure appropriate access to home care services for older Australians.
ACSA CEO, Pat Sparrow agreed and said Australia needs to have a sustainable, flexible and quality aged care system.
The final word from Minister Wyatt
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. This is in addition to the immediate home care package increase and the My Aged Care revamp. “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.”
“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.”
* aclg is associated with the Parent company of agedcareweekly.com.au, Jerome Rault Media P/L