As you’ve no doubt heard, the Productivity Commission has released its long awaited draft recommendations for aged care reform, Caring for Older Australians.
This post is just to provide a quick link, and I hope to have more analysis of the draft report at a later date.
The key points from the report are:
Aged care assists over one million older Australians and its range and quality of services have improved over the last decade.
But the system suffers several key weaknesses. It is difficult to navigate and 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 Commission’s proposals address these weaknesses and challenges and promote higher quality care. The focus 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.
Safety and quality standards would be retained but current limits on the number of residential places and care packages would be removed, as would the distinctions between low and high care and between ordinary and extra service status.
A new independent regulatory commission would transparently recommend to the Government the price for care services and for standard accommodation for supported residents, be responsible for quality accreditation, and address complaints.
The Australian Government would manage its fiscal exposure by setting the criteria for needs assessments, the resource levels for approved services, the co-contribution schedules and the standard for basic accommodation.
I like how this section of the report is structured, to make it clear what problems each recommendation is trying to fix (wouldn’t it have been nice to see more like this during health reform deliberations….)
The Commission wants written submissions by Monday 21 March 2011, and is due to present its final report to the Government by the end of June 2011.
It will also be holding public hearings as per below: