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Key recommendations

A summary of the key recommendations of the draft report of the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians inquiry

• The aged care system should promote independence and wellness, while ensuring all seniors have access to person-centered care. Services should be consumer directed; allowing for consumer choice and control
• The regulatory restrictions on the number of community care packages and residential bed licences should be removed over a five-year period
• The distinction between high and low care should also be removed
• The restrictions on accommodation payments, including the cap on charges in high care, should be removed. Those entering residential care should have the option of paying for their accommodation costs as a lump sum (i.e. an accommodation bond), ongoing fees or a combination of both
• An Australian Pensioners Bond scheme should be established to allow pensioners to purchase a bond from the government on the sale of their residence. They could draw upon this to fund living expenses and aged care costs
• The government should set a comprehensive means test for care recipients’ co-contributions for approved care services
• The government should remove the regulatory restrictions on supplying additional services in all residential facilities and remove the distinction between ordinary and extra service bed licences
• The regulation of retirement villages and other retirement specific living options should remain the responsibility of state and territory governments, and should not be aligned with the regulation of aged care
• However, state and territory governments should pursue nationally consistent retirement village legislation under the aegis of the Council of Australian Governments
• The government should promote skill development through an expansion of courses to provide aged care workers at all levels with the skills they need, including advanced clinical courses for nurses to become nurse practitioners and management courses for health and care workers entering management roles
• In conjunction with universities and providers, the government should fund the expansion of ‘teaching aged care services’ to promote the sector among medical, nursing and allied health students
• The government should establish a new regulatory agency — the Australian Aged Care Regulation Commission (AACRC). Under this, the Department of Health and Ageing would cease its regulatory activities, the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency would be established as a statutory office within the AACRC, and a statutory office for complaints handling and reviews would also be established within the AACRC
• The AACRC would have three full-time statutorily-appointed Commissioners
• Key functions of AACRC would include responsibility for compliance checking and enforcement of regulations, covering the quality of community and residential aged care, approving aged care providers, administering prudential regulation and all other aged care regulation, and monitoring and assessing costs and recommending a set of prices, subsidies and a rate of indexation for subsidised aged care services
• The AACRC would also act as a national ‘clearinghouse’ for aged care data. This will involve being the central repository for aged care data and coordinating its collection from various agencies and departments and making these data sets publicly available in a timely manner for research
• In implementing reform, the government should announce a timetable for changes, consult with providers, consumers, carers and government agencies on issues expected to arise from the implementation of the new system, and embed feedback processes and enable fine-tuning of the new system

Source: The draft report of the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians inquiry. Full report at www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/aged-care/draft

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