The rationing of aged care funding and places should end as part of major reforms designed to make it easier for older Australians to get the support they need, royal commission lawyers say.
Funding would reflect the actual cost of providing high quality and safe care under a fundamental overhaul of the system being considered by the aged care royal commission.
Last week, the fourth Adelaide hearing of the commission took place and senior counsel assisting the commission Peter Gray said people should be entitled to care that is not only of high clinical quality but also designed to enhance their wellbeing and quality of life.
“People assessed as having needs justifying higher level care at home should not have to wait until a rationed package becomes available,” Gray told the commissioners in Adelaide on Wednesday.
“People receiving care whether at home or in a residential facility should have confidence that their provider is funded to provide the care that is necessary to meet their assessed needs.”
Gray said the rationing of aged care funding and cap on the supply of home care packages and residential places should be removed, subject to a careful implementation strategy.
It would end the process where constraints are imposed on the number of people who are eligible to receive aged care, even if assessed as needing it.
It would also be much easier for people to get the information and aged care they need, rather than them being restricted to the My Aged Care website and call centre.
Doctors and social workers would be able to make referrals and there would be face-to-face assistance from the outset and ongoing case management for anybody who needs it.
Gray said there would be a new organisation and workforce of care finders, equipped with local knowledge about different care options.
Gray said the main existing programs for home care and residential care should be consolidated into a single program based on a single eligibility assessment, where funding was demand-driven based on assessed need and did not involve rationing.
He said the urgently-needed reforms would require greater levels of funding, but noted the changes could not all be implemented overnight and a transition strategy would be needed.
“If duly implemented, we consider that the changes will lead to significant improvements in the ways in which aged care is subsidised and provided to the older Australians who need it,” he said.
The funding issues will be examined at a future hearing, before the royal commissioners outline their recommendations for a fundamental overhaul of the system in their final report in November.Do you have an idea for a story?
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