The National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) is developing new options to replace the failed dementia supplement, including moving to grant-based funding for specialist high-level dementia care, ahead of the government’s forthcoming dementia forum.
In an attempt to present a consensus position to a Federal Government forum on 11 September, NACA has established a special subcommittee made up of consumer representatives, service provider peaks and unions to try to negotiate a compromise.
An options paper has been produced by the committee’s convenor Alzheimer’s Australia and circulated among members.
AAA understands the government has agreed to absorb the supplement’s first year overspend and will make available the forward estimates to fund a replacement scheme, at a cost of approximately $12 million per year.
In the place of the cancelled supplement, Alzheimer’s Australia has proposed a grants-based program which would allocate funding to providers based on meeting specific eligibility criteria such as having a dementia coordinator, pathways to specialist care and regular reviews of medication use.
Alzheimer’s Australia has been a long-time advocate for attaching conditions to government funding for severe dementia that relate to capacity of providers to care for residents with Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia.
During early consultation on the development of the Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement in 2013, Alzheimer’s Australia pushed for additional eligibility requirements to be placed on providers but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Aged care industry peak bodies strongly opposed the linking of funding to minimum expectations and these requirements were included in the final eligibility guidelines as considerations only.
At the time, both LASA and ACSA argued that the existing accreditation system was sufficient to demonstrate the capacity of providers to deliver appropriate care for residents with severe BPSD. The peaks also expressed concern that some regions might also be deprived of services if no local provider elected to be a specialist dementia care provider.
In July 2014, LASA CEO Patrick Reid told AAA he did not support the supplementary money being delivered as block funding for specialist dementia care providers because dementia care was “a mainstream not a niche issue” in aged care.
It remains to be seen whether a new compromise can be struck on the proposal ahead of the 11 September meeting.
Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Glenn Rees told AAA the grant program would aim to approve grants in different regions and to demonstrate that quality care for people with severe BPSD was possible within the funding available.
He said he did not favour a system that linked subsidies to the number of individuals requiring care because, as the axed supplement showed, achieving consistent assessment of resident need across providers was difficult.
The dementia supplement attracted claims by 15 per cent of aged care residents rather than the original 1 per cent budgeted for by the previous government.
The government’s forum Dementia Care – Core Business for Aged Care, to be held on 11 September in Melbourne, will bring together industry stakeholders and experts to discuss alternatives to the ceased supplement which ended on 31 July.
For an in-depth report on the axed dementia supplement, see the forthcoming September-October edition of Australian Ageing Agenda.