Ian Yates, Chief Executive COTA addressed the National Press Club on election priorities.
By Linda Belardi
Aged care reform must keep pace with DisabilityCare and move to an individualised funding and entitlement-based system, consumer groups have told the National Press Club in Canberra today.
COTA Australia Chief Executive Ian Yates said the two systems are going to co-exist with individuals moving between them, and the same rights and entitlements should apply.
“The interface between aged care and disability care is going to be a continuously contentious issue in the future,” said Mr Yates.
He said the disability insurance scheme’s 65-year old cut-off was arbitrary and that people would question why they could exercise greater choice and control in one system and not in the other.
Funding for aged care should be linked to each recipient so they could determine how and where their funding entitlement is used, he said. “It’s about continuing to move toward an aged care system that puts the older person at the centre, through control over the resources to which they are entitled, just as we are now going to do in disability care.”
Glenn Rees, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia proposed a trial of a cashed out model for respite care as a test to see how individualised funding might work in aged care.
Mr Rees said the seamless integration between aged care and DisabilityCare would need to be a priority for the new government.
“The disability and aged care reforms can learn much from the other, for example, how the market responds to individualised funding, managing the balance between choice and risk and the monitoring of the quality of the services provided,” Mr Rees told the press club.
COTA Australia used the event to release its federal election platform, ‘A New Deal for Older Australians’, which was based on direct feedback from an election panel of almost 900 members.
Nearly 40 per cent of voters are currently over 50, representing a larger proportion of the electorate than ever before. But Mr Yates said it was disturbing that older Australians were still in many instances “second-class citizens” and fighting ageism in society was an underpinning issue in COTA’s election platform.
He said upper age limits still restricted access to mental health services for older Australians and there was significant under-treatment of mental health issues, especially for people living in residential aged care.
The consumer peak body said there was a widespread myth that depression was a normal or inevitable part of ageing and some estimates showed that up to a half of aged care residents may have symptoms of depression that is often not recognised or treated.
In response, COTA Australia has called for dedicated funding for older adult services in all future Commonwealth-state agreements on mental health, as well as improved training and education for health professionals in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems for older people.
In its comprehensive election platform, which covered 30 recommendations across 5 key areas, COTA also outlined the need for a five-year national public education campaign around dying and palliative care.
Mr Yates said many older people were concerned about the care they would receive at the end of their life and if they would have their wishes respected.
Other policy recommendations included:
- A study to determine the nature, and amount, of unmet demand in aged care
- The development of a ‘Healthy Ageing strategy’ that encourages older people to change their lifestyle and addresses the key risk factors around alcohol, nutrition, tobacco and exercise
- The implementation of an elder abuse support and prevention program that informs consumers of their rights
- A five-year anti-ageism campaign
- An additional $40 million investment per year for dementia research
Tuesday’s National Press Club address will be screened on ABC1 and Sky News on Wednesday, 14 August at 12.30pm.