Many aged care providers are not ready for the full rollout of consumer directed care from 1 July and in reality some will continue to deliver care under the current system beyond the official deadline, a forum on CDC has heard.
While providers were of the view that government had not done enough to support them for the transition to CDC, consumer groups at the forum argued that the Home Care Today initiative provided a range of resources and supports.
The readiness of providers for CDC was raised by several speakers at the forum on CDC, which was held in Sydney on Thursday and hosted by healthcare products supplier Hartmann.
Jason Howie, CEO of KinCare, said it was clear that the industry on the whole was “not ready at this point in time.”
He said the transformation in the industry from a paternalistic approach to a consumer driven approach was very complex.
KinCare was among the first organisations to operate CDC packages and is currently the largest provider of CDC packages in Australia.
Mr Howie said KinCare was very surprised at how much work was required across the organisation’s infrastructure in order to record every transaction at a client level, and this required “an enormous investment if you are going to do that on a larger scale.”
This organisational challenge had been compounded by the delays within the Department of Human Services around implementation of new systems, and with means testing in particular, he said.
Mr Howie stressed he was not arguing for the full introduction of CDC to be slowed down or delayed. He said it was likely that, beyond the 1 July deadline, organisations that were not CDC ready would continue to provide programs as they had been; there would a slower transition than the government had intended, he said.
Cynthia Payne, chief executive officer of SummitCare said there was a significant issue around fragmentation in the industry.
“Smaller providers will peril. There will be fall out. There is an underestimation of what it was going to take to make such a fundamental change,” she said.
Ms Payne said that smaller providers might not have the capital to invest in the necessary ICT infrastructure.
CEO of Leading Age Services Australia Patrick Reid criticised the level of government support provided to aged care organisations in the lead up to CDC.
“There has been no support really around change management to enable these massive redirections. If you are remodelling a business and educating consumers you need support, and that has been sorely lacking. Transition and change management are some of the big issues, if only 20 per cent of the market is ready for a change that is only five months away,” Mr Reid told the forum.
However Ian Yates, chief executive of Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia, disagreed that there had been no government support, and cited the Home Care Today program which provides resources, as well as a national series of change management workshops.
The Federal Government had just extended the funding for Home Care Today, which would expand the program and extend it for a year and a half, Mr Yates said.
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda after the forum, Mr Reid said there was still wide variability among providers in terms of their readiness to deliver CDC from 1 July.
“We have providers who are absolutely ready for the changeover, we have those in the middle of change, and those which are really still thinking about it – five months out.”
He said LASA was meeting with the Federal Government next week and would be raising some of the challenges facing providers. Issues around change management included not just education but also ICT, administrative systems and care processes, he said.
When asked what specific supports LASA wanted to see from government, Mr Reid nominated technology as a particular area of concern.
“IT is one of the low points in aged care – across both home care and residential. I think that’s understood by government, but there’s been no funding brought forward to assist with that.”
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