Expansion in home care. Greater transparency. A “tightly scrutinised” rescue package.
That’s the aged care trifecta government should deliver in next week’s federal budget, say Grattan Institute researchers.
Writing for The Conversation, the think tank’s health program director Stephen Duckett, along with Anika Stobart and Emeritus Professor Hal Swerissen from La Trobe University, said more money is necessary but not sufficient.
“The aged care system needs to be redesigned, throwing out the current market-driven, provider-centric approach.
“The ultimate goal should be a dramatically different aged care system which is more attuned to supporting the rights of older Australians.”
On home care, the trio said more money for the industry isn’t sensible without reforming how it’s used.
“Administrative costs are far too high, and much of the funding allocated for home care has not been used because people didn’t need all the money allocated to them.
“While the expansion of home care is being phased in, government should work on system redesign so the new arrangements can be individually tailored to the needs of the older person. The estimated $1 billion allocated but not spent can be used on actual service delivery.”
The researchers also recommended improved accreditation of home care provider to “weed out” high-cost, low-value providers, along with the streamlining of access to packages, a reduction of administrative costs and an increase to the maximum amount of care hours able to be provided in the highest level home care package.
Turning to the issue of transparency, Duckett, Stobart and Swerissen said consumers need much better information about quality and outcomes so they can choose which services to use.
“The protection racket that has stopped older people learning about the performance of home care and residential care providers needs to end,” they wrote.
And to lift the standard of care across low-performing facilities, the Grattan team said government should set up a $1 billion rescue fund.
“The government should require those facilities to produce a recovery plan by December 31 2020 outlining how they propose to get there by the middle of next year.
“Access to the fund should be tightly scrutinised so the money goes to upgrading staffing, and not to greater profits for wealthy owners.
“If providers can’t implement their rescue plan successfully, they should transfer management to a group that can.”Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]