The Turnbull Government has announced major initiatives in home care services. It has also announced improved access to the My Aged Care system. This comes as it releases the report of the Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017. Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Ken Wyatt, Minister for Aged Care announced the news today. They announced an increase of 6,000 extra high need home care packages is forthcoming. Further, they touted a $20 million My Aged Care revamp.
An additional 6,000 home care packages will be made available to support elderly Australians with higher care needs to remain living at home. At the same time, support for aged care consumers will be streamlined through a $20 million investment in the My Aged Care information system. The investment is designed to improve public access, especially for rural, regional and remote clients.
Information from the new national home care priority queue is now also available to consumers. This was developed as part of 2017 Increasing Choice in Home Care reforms. Under the reforms, home care packages are released to consumers who have the most urgent needs. Alternately, they may go to those who’ve been waiting the longest for packages.
The new queue system also provides clarity for consumers. Also, it allows the Government to track demand for home care and adjust supply where required. The idea is to ensure older Australians get the care they need when they need it. The Government claims a substantial number of people have been identified as waiting for higher level care. In fact, they claim many of them faced uncertainty under the old arrangements.
The Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017 was led by David Tune AO, PSM. It examined the effectiveness of the aged care reforms enacted through the 2012 Living Longer Living Better package and his report includes 38 recommendations for future aged care provision.
Improved aged care services to regional, rural and remote areas a priority
The Turnbull Government welcomed the bulk of the review (which was required under legislation). However, The Government will not include the full value of the owner’s home in the means test for residential care. Nor will they remove the annual and lifetime caps on means-tested fees. One of the aims is to allow older Australians to continue living in regional, rural and remote areas.
Just part of the bigger aged care picture
The Government will consider the Tune Review’s findings and recommendations, in the context of work underway by a taskforce in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, examining ageing more broadly. The Productivity Commission recently forecast Australia will need almost one million aged care staff by 2050, a skilled workforce is essential to support quality care and continuing reform. A detailed aged care workforce strategy will be produced by a taskforce, to be chaired by Professor John Pollaers, supported by a $2 million 2017-18 Budget commitment.
$18.6 billion for aged care in 2017-18. $100 billion planned for the next five years.
High-quality, people-centred aged care systems are the stated aim of these projects. The idea is to provide older Australians with choice and control of their care. Further, it’s designed to be more affordable for consumers, taxpayers and care providers.
The Turnbull Government has allocated a record $18.6 billion for aged care in 2017-18. Further it plans to spend $100 billion in aged care support over the next half decade. Further, it includes $5.5 billion to extend the Commonwealth Home Support Program until 2020. That program also provides services including Meals On Wheels, transport, personal assistance and home maintenance. Further, it provides $2 million for an industry led taskforce to develop an aged care workforce strategy.
Read the full details of the Legislated Review of Aged Care 2017 on the Government website (https://agedcare.health.gov.au/reform/aged-care-legislated-review)