UnitingCare Australia welcomes the Government’s decision to outline its blueprint for aged care reform tomorrow ahead of the May Federal Budget.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the aged care reforms announced today put older Australians at the centre of a new aged care system.
UnitingCare Australia said changes in aged care funding announced by the Federal Government last night will reduce the ability of aged care providers to provide quality care to older Australians, at least in the short term, in an environment where the demand for and cost of aged care is growing.
UnitingCare Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Second Draft Discussion Paper regarding the Accommodation Pricing Guidelines, Significant Refurbishment of residential Agedcare Services, Fees and Payments Principles 2013, Subsidy Principles 2013, Aged Care (Maximum Accommodation Payment
Amount) Determination 2013
UnitingCare Australia welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Dementia and Veterans’ Supplements in Aged Care Consultation Paper of April 2013. We welcome the recognition of the additional care needs of people with dementia and mental health issues receiving support from residential and home care services. The following comments and questions of clarification are provided on the Consultation Paper.
UnitingCare Australia supports long the awaited aged care legislation tabled in the Federal Parliament today and encourages all parties and Independents to also get behind the bills.
UnitingCare Australia believes that every older Australian should be able to live well, as part of their community, with dignity and independence, and in a place of their choosing.
In the new environment of consumer-led and demand-driven agedcare, older Australians should have access to the appropriate and affordable support and care services that they need, when they need them.
UnitingCare Australia supports the reform of the agedcare system and the move to consumer-driven care.
However, UnitingCare Australia believes older Australians will need assistance in making the transition to the new models of care and that the most vulnerable and those with high care needs will need additional support to ensure they are able to make informed choices.
UnitingCare also believes the agedcare system needs to be adequately funded to be sustainable into the future, and that funding cuts threaten the viability of providers and the quality of care provided to older Australians.
In spite of the ambitious reforms, high quality agedcare remains out of the reach of many older people.
Almost 15,000 older Australians experience homelessness or are at risk of homelessness and one in twelve older Australians experience significant financial or social disadvantage.
Other older Australians do not have access to quality, flexible, accessible care in the location of their choosing.
People with high care needs, people living in rural and remote areas, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and members of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, can face even greater difficulties accessing appropriate services and supports.
Couples can also face significant challenges in accessing care that meets all their needs and respects their status.
Services are under increasing pressure to meet the demand for specialised care for people with dementia and other complex care needs and carers often struggle to meet the needs of their partner or relative at home. The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to rise to more than 400,000 within five years.
Older people needing care can still face lengthy delays. In 2013-14, only 69 per cent of those needing care entered residential high care within three months of assessment and only 62 per cent entered residential low care within that time.
Only 59 per cent of people commencing Home Care received services within three months of approval.
The aged sector faces a number of workforce challenges including difficulties recruiting qualified staff to residential aged care and the need to develop and maintain a flexible workforce to deliver consumer-driven care.
UnitingCare's Aged Care Network is an advisory network that assists in identifying issues requiring national action. Members of this body are drawn from across the UnitingCare network.
The role of the Aged Care Network is to develop, review and reflect upon the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in its community services ministry with people; and contribute to the advocacy of UnitingCare Australia.
UnitingCare looks forward to working with the Australian Government to deliver a robust aged care workforce strategy that will underpin a sustainable future for the aged care industry. Key areas that must be addressed include:
1. training and skills development, to support entry and transition to the aged care sector, as well as new skills to meet the needs of an innovative and responsive industry;
2. raising the profile of the sector as a potential employer, and ensuring that conditions and career pathways reflect the importance of aged care to community wellbeing; and
3. research and development in the sector, to ensure quality and efficiency outcomes and to capture the potential of aged care, as a growing service industry, to contribute socially and economically.
UnitingCare Australia supports the improvement of the collection of financial data from aged care providers if it is carried out in an open, fair, transparent and accountable manner by governments.
The data collection should not impose significant additional administrative burdens on providers and should seek to streamline data collection where possible. As a first principle data already available to the Commonwealth should be utilised before imposing further red tape on providers.
A comprehensive cost of care study is supported but consideration should be given to constructing this in a way that minimises the workload for providers and provides timely and accurate information (such as through a 3 month sample).
Data collection must be consistent with the requirements of other bodies (the ACNC, ASIC, Accounting Standards and the Aged Care Legislation). Necessary changes are supported provided that they ultimately benefit consumer and the viability of services that support older people.
As you are likely aware, UnitingCare agencies manage 12 per cent of all residential aged care places in Australia and are a major provider of community-based services used by older people.
As a major service provider, UnitingCare Australia advocated for and welcomes the ongoing aged care reform process, and actively participates in the consultation opportunities offered by the Australian Government.