The government is instituting aged care reform in Australia. Furthermore, the Department of Health explained why this is necessary. They believe the Australian aged care system is currently world-class. However, people are living longer thanks to better health and health care. Furthermore, to maintain this momentum, it believes fundamental and regular changes are necessary.
The goals of Aged Care Reform
The goals of the Aged Care Reform changes are to ensure the following:
- the system needs to be sustainable and affordable
- it should offer choice and flexibility for consumers
- businesses must be encouraged to invest and grow
- the industry ought to provide diverse and rewarding career options
The Aged Care reform plan
The plan is to institute the reforms progressively. Moreover, they are to be implemented in three phases over a period of 10 years.
Phase 1 began in 2012–13 and 2013–14. Beginning with immediate, urgently needed improvements. Furthermore it laid the groundwork for the next stage of reforms. New home care packages and supplements were introduced in home and residential care.
Firstly, My Aged Care began operations. This included a national Contact Centre. Followed by the establishment of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency. Additionally, the Aged Care Pricing Commission was launched.
An important part of the changes was a change in direction. Notably, a move towards consumer-directed care. This will mean people will have greater choice. Furthermore, the care offered will be based on people’s needs.
Traditionally, people have seen aged care as residential. However, in reality most people want to keep their independence. That means remaining at home, connected to their families and the community. Government investment in home centred support packages will meet those desires.
Phase 2 began in 2014–15 and 2015–16. The progress made in years three and four was aimed at delivering improved access in choice for consumers. Furthermore, emphasis was put on stronger sustainability for the systems in place. These changes built on the previous achievements. Additionally, they included implementing the national Voluntary Quality Indicators for aged care. They also introduced a national fee framework for the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
Phase 3 began in 2016–17 proceeding to 2021–22. However, the changes to be implemented in this phase will be developed in consultation with the aged care sector. A single quality framework will be developed. It is hoped that framework will increase the focus on quality outcomes for consumers. Furthermore, the legislation mandates a five year review. This review will look at the impact of the reforms to date. Also, it will indicate where the government needs to take the system in the future.
The government’s vision for Australia’s reforms to the aged care system is stated as follows. They hope that by 2022 it will deliver the following:
- it will be sustainable and affordable, long into the future
- offer greater choice and flexibility for consumers
- Supply people with long-term support to remain at home and part of their communities
- Aged care businesses will be encouraged to invest and grow
- Provision of diverse and rewarding career options