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Prioritising sustainability of aged care sector

21st September 2017

Leading Victorian aged care provider Benetas has urged government to continue considering some of the key recommendations to come from the Legislated Review into Aged Care 2017 report last week.

It has also encouraged government to adopt the Aged Care Financing Authority’s (ACFA) recommendations around amending the administrative application of the 40 per cent supported resident ratio to apply over the course of a month rather than a daily basis, as discussed in David Tune’s report.

Benetas Chief Executive Officer Sandra Hills OAM said that while the 40 per cent supported resident ratio had been a useful policy mechanism in ensuring equitable access to aged care services there were still challenges to overcome.

“The ACFA report suggests that the policy has had the intended impact as concessional rates have increased,” said Ms Hills. “However we need to acknowledge that our rural colleagues may find this figure difficult to achieve.”

“We need to understand that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work and would like to see government pursue reform options to further improve and refine these measures,” said Ms Hills.

“It’s important to consider other methods of supporting residents who experience financial and social disadvantage, and Benetas is particularly hopeful that government will act upon Mr Tune’s recommendation around introducing a government-funded aged care system navigator and outreach service to support people who experience difficulty engaging with the existing system.”

Ms Hills said Benetas welcomed government’s recent investment in home care, with the delivery of an additional 6,000 packages and additional $20 million allocated to improve access to the My Aged Care system.

“The investment in home care is a good start towards meeting the significant need for support in the community, and we hope to see these lead to increased efficiency in package allocation and service access.”

While the organisation has welcomed the Review report release, its believes the government’s quick refusal of recommendations specifically regarding the removal of the annual and lifetime caps on means-tested fees and including the full value of an older person’s home in the means test for residential care could have significant impact on the sustainability of the sector.

Ms Hills said that while the organisation understood these were complex issues, more discussion was required concerning how the aged care system would be adequately funded to ensure increasing need was met.

“As a sector, our priority needs to be on ensuring we can appropriately support older Australians now and well into the future,” said Ms Hills.“This means looking at initiatives to ensure the financial sustainability of the sector and how it is funded.”

“We encourage government to revisit their thinking around this, particularly with regard to the family home and caps on income and means-tested user contributions.”

Ms Hills also spoke of the need to understand the report within the current context of aged care.

“This report comes at a time when we are awaiting the outcomes of various other reviews into aspects of the aged care industry, including the Review of National Aged Care Quality Regulatory Processes and Future of Australia’s Aged Care Sector Workforce Inquiry,” said Ms Hills.

“The outcomes of these reviews will influence our ability to plan effectively for the future, and in order to do this we need to have the full picture.”

“Benetas is committed to working in collaboration with government and industry peers to achieve a sustainable,
robust and equitable aged care sector that delivers meaningful support to older people.”