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David Tune (Left) pictured with Glenn Rees at the royal commission workshop

Put the power in the hands of the consumer: royal commission workshop

Reablement, funding reform and face-to-face guidance were among the topics discussed in the aged care royal commission’s first workshop held in Adelaide this week.

Aged care in its current form is often too difficult to navigate, and looking at the assessment and navigation systems would be a good start for reform, the assembled experts told the commission.

COTA chief executive Ian Yates suggested that assessors and navigators be the same person.

“We’ve suggested in our submission that when people are assessed, they are assigned someone who – we’ve used the term case manager – that can navigate, who knows where services are available, who can work with the person about making decisions about what’s best for them and connect them up quickly,” he said.

Funding of respite was also discussed, with some panel members arguing that we need a separate funding stream for respite care.

Glenn Rees, chairman of Alzheimer’s International, said: “Take [respite funding] out of residential care. Take it out of where it is at the moment in home care. I would have one funding stream and I would ensure it gets the priority it needs, in terms of care and needs.

“I would focus on respite in residential care purely on that transitional element that helps an older person move into aged care in as graceful way as they can in terms of residential care.”

The experts bemoaned the lack of reablement in the current system and brought forward the idea of an individual budget reflecting the care assessment of the individual. This would give that person the ability to make decisions about how that budget should be spent on the care they choose. This was described by counsel assisting Peter Gray as a “powerful argument”.

The way we currently fund aged care was put under scrutiny by the panellists who suggested that we could follow Japan’s lead and instigate an insurance type fund for aged care, more akin to superannuation or the superannuation guarantee fund than the current model.

“But if you do move to a social insurance system, in the same way as it took many 35 years for the superannuation system and the superannuation guarantee to mature, so that people are going to accumulate enough over their lifetime to be able to meet their needs.

“Whether they are income needs or aged care needs or health needs, is a real issue. So you are probably talking, you know, something like a 30, 40 year transition to get there,” Tune cautioned.

The Royal commission goes back to its  regular format with its third hearing in Adelaide set for 21 February.

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