Friday, 21 January 2011

Caring for Older Australians : Submissions invited

The Productivity Commission draft report Caring for Older Australians identifies a number of weaknesses in the aged care system. While over one million older people receive aged care services, the system is difficult to navigate, there are gaps in service coverage, user charges are inconsistent and inequitable, and the workforce is under pressure. The Commission is proposing a wide-ranging package of reforms to address these issues, including a much simpler, single gateway into aged care.

The Commission's proposed reforms would free up the system by removing limits on care packages and residential bed numbers, and distinctions between low, high and extra service residential care, but quality standards would remain.Providers would be operating in a competitive market and would need to be more responsive to their clients. They would have to offer an accommodation charge that reflected costs and limit bond values to the equivalent of that charge. Older people would contribute to the cost of their care according to their financial capacity to do so, and be protected by a lifetime limit on care cocontributions. They would also be responsible for their accommodation and living expenses, with safety nets for those with limited means.

The draft report canvasses a number of other reforms aimed at assisting older people with special needs, as well as the families and other carers of older people. Improved working environments and more competitive wages would help ensure that there are sufficient well-trained nurses and carers for the growing numbers of older Australians.

Interested parties are invited to make submissions to the Commission by Monday 21 March, 2011 (See : http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/aged-care for details) or attend the scheduled public hearings.

Key points summary

Media release

Mixed response to aged care report (ABC News)

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