Today the Productivity Commission released its draft report entitled Caring For Older Australians.
The report recommends a major overhaul for the aged care sector in order to simplify access to care for older Australians and make the system more equitable, while maintaining quality standards and improving wellbeing. The Productivity Commission’s Deputy Chairman, Mike Woods said that “With an ageing population … the system is expected to provide care to over 3.6 million older Australians by 2050.” The report proposes reforms to accommodate the ageing population while keeping government expenditure within sustainable limits.
Major proposed reforms include:
- Removing limits on residential bed numbers and distinctions between different levels of care in order to free up aged care spaces.
- Establishment of an Australian Seniors Gateway Agency for entry into the aged care system, making the process simpler and easier to navigate. This would be delivered via a regional network, and would include streamlining of information sources, care needs assessments, financial capability assessments, entitlement assessments and care coordination. The emphasis for care would be on a flexible range of services designed to provide restorative care and rehabilitation. The agency would also assess the capacity of available informal carers to provide ongoing support, and make respite and other services more available to them.
- Co-contributions from older Australians to the costs of their own care based on affordability and capacity to pay (with a lifetime stop-loss limit to prevent the total consumption of a person’s accumulated wealth). This would be facilitated, in part, by access to a government sponsored equity release scheme for those with assets but with limited incomes.
- Providing of choice where feasible for people to remain in their own homes or to choose their care provider, including support for home maintenance and modification services. Additional flexibility to purchase additional services or higher quality accommodation.
- Provision for people to retain the Aged Pension while selling their home by purchasing an Australian Pensioners Bond, allowing them to contribute proceeds from the sale of their home.
- Increasing the proportion of places available to government supported residents to meet the needs of the financially disadvantaged.
- Enhancing the attractiveness of the aged care sector to employees by scheduling prices to reflect the need to pay more competitive wages to nursing and other staff.
- Government regulation to ensure aged care prices reflect the real cost of accommodation.
Feedback on the draft report is welcomed and written submissions should be directed to the Productivity Commission by Monday 21 March 2011. Public hearings will be held in capital cities in March/April. For more information, phone (02) 6240 3233, go to http://www.pc.gov.au/project/inquiry/aged-care, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The final report is expected to be delivered to the government in June 2011. The full draft report can be accessed here.