This report sets out a series of proposals to deal with weaknesses and challenges in the aged care system and promote higher quality care.
The aged care system is difficult to navigate, the quantity of services is limited, quality can be variable, there are gaps in service coverage and limited choices for care recipients. Pricing, subsidies and user co-contributions are inconsistent and inequitable within and between care settings. Workforce shortages are exacerbated by uncompetitive wages and over-regulation.
The system will be further challenged by an increase in the numbers and expectations of older people, a relative decline in informal carers and the need for a larger workforce.
The focus of the recommendations in this repor is on enhancing the wellbeing of older Australians – promoting independence, connectedness and choice. Under the proposed reforms, older Australians would:
• contact a simplified 'gateway' for: easily understood information; assessments of care needs; assessments of financial capacity to make co-contributions; entitlements to approved services; and care coordination – all at a regional level
• receive a flexible range of care and support services that meet their individual needs and that emphasise, where possible, restorative care and rehabilitation
• choose, where feasible and appropriate, to receive care at home or in a residential facility and choose their approved provider
• contribute in part to their cost of care (with a maximum lifetime limit) and meet their accommodation and living expenses (with safety nets for those with limited means)
• have access to a government sponsored equity release scheme to pay for their care and accommodation charges if they have assets but limited annual incomes
• choose between paying a daily charge or an equivalent bond for the accommodation costs of residential care — with both aligned to the real cost of accommodation
• retain their age pension when selling their home (and if paying a lower capital sum or a daily charge for their new accommodation) by purchasing an Australian Pensioners Bond
• choose whether to purchase additional services or a higher quality of accommodation if that is what they want and can afford to do so.
Image: 'Elderly woman and her view', Borya / flickr