New aged care package adopts industry recommendations

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Hidden by the federal government’s leadership stoush last month was the passing of the Living Longer Living Better aged care reform package, opening the door for better long-term support measures for ageing Australians.

The move takes on key recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians report tabled in 2011.
UnitingCare Australia national director, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said the next stage is to develop the key principles which will hopefully provide simpler regulatory processes and ease of access to aged care packages.

“How effectively these principles will be implemented will depend on which aged care minister, and maybe government, we have,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

Broadly, the package removes the distinction between low-level and high-level residential care. It stipulates means testing of fees and gives a dementia, veterans’ mental health and workforce supplement for aged care providers.

The package also enables care recipients options of accommodation payment, including a fully refundable lump sum, a rental style periodic payment, or a combination of both. It offers replacement of some forms of care with home care. The community visitors’ scheme will extend to people in home care.

It also calls for the appointment of an Aged Care Pricing Commissioner. The commissioner is to prepare an annual report and provide an independent review of this package, which will be tabled to the minister by 1 July 2017.

“Australia’s growing ageing population is engaged and informed. Regardless of frailty or disability, they expect to have access to the services that allow them to maintain their health, their autonomy and their dignity,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“It makes good social and economic sense to invest in the wellbeing of older people so they can remain healthy, active members of their communities.”

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