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Provider network urges government to review aged care funding, put cuts on hold


There are fresh calls for the government to undertake a review of funding for residential care following confirmation the Commonwealth will examine alternative ways of achieving budgeted savings to the Aged Care Funding Instrument.

Last month Australian Ageing Agenda first reported that the government had told industry stakeholders at a National Aged Care Alliance meeting it was open to alternative ways of adjusting ACFI, but that it still had to achieve the same $1.2 billion savings over four years (read that story here).

Speaking at the Aged & Community Services Australia summit in Hobart last week Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley confirmed that the government would work with the sector to find an alternative to the cuts to the ACFI, but said any measure had to deliver the same savings.

AAA understands the government and sector stakeholders are working to a deadline of the end of September to agree on an alternative to the controversial ACFI cuts that were first announced in the May budget.

 Steve Teulan

Steve Teulan

Chair of the UnitingCare Aged Care Network Steve Teulan yesterday said the cuts would compromise the quality of care for residents and reduce future access for vulnerable older Australians.

“We call on the government to work collaboratively with the sector on a full review of funding arrangements, including an assessment of funding required to meet the care needs of people being supported in residential aged care services, and to put the funding cuts on hold while the review is carried out,” said Mr Teulan.

He said the government’s offer to discuss how it achieves aged care funding cuts was welcome and demonstrated a willingness to engage with the sector to find ways to minimise the impact of the cuts.

“However, at the same time, the government has made it clear that it is still seeking to cut more than $2 billion from aged care services,” he said.

“We recognise the government’s need to manage the growth of expenditure on aged care, but any sustainable funding model must consider the care needs of growing numbers of older people requiring residential aged care,” Mr Teulan said.

As AAA has reported, UnitingCare Aged Care Network previously commissioned modelling that indicated the cuts, on average, would reduce the funding to care for aged care residents by $6,650 per resident, per year (read that story here).

Aged care funding cuts: Follow AAA’s full coverage here

Want to have your say on this story? Comment below. Send us your news and tip-offs to editorial@australianageingagenda.com.au 

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5 Responses to Provider network urges government to review aged care funding, put cuts on hold

  1. Jan Marshall September 14, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

    I’m very cynical about the motives of providers. I believe they just want to maintain their profit margins. Whether the providers get more or less money will not impact the level of care because this is not measured against of the assessment of need. The providers can get away with appalling levels of care and there is no recompense. There is the perverse incentive to make cases more complex, on paper, and in practice, so they get more money, but do not provide more care. This week I have been hearing from a relative in aged care about rostering where staff have left, or been known to not be available, but no attempt made to fill these known gaps with alternative nurses/carers, leaving carer numbers impossibly low. More profit to the provider, poorer care for the resident, stress for the carers who do turn up for work.

  2. ant September 14, 2016 at 1:22 pm #

    Hi Jan – I can assure you that from my long experience with this organisation, it does not have the same agenda as you describe. Uniting has an almost pathological approach (sorry Chris and Steve!) to ensuring that finances are closely monitored and managed – and that funds are spent where they are needed and government policy on aged care funding is based on evidence, not just politics or bureaucratic modelling.

  3. Boyd Fraser September 14, 2016 at 9:00 pm #

    The current Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) actively promotes a terminal decline model of residential aged care, which is patently not in the best interests of nursing home residents and causes great distress and anxiety to relatives and carers alike, who recognize that we are failing our elderly. This is widely known and accepted in the sector. Further, the poor wording and absence of effective checks and balances means that ACFI is extensively rorted or gamed by providers across Australia.

    If the Government and the Opposition are prepared to take a giant step back from the demands of the peak bodies and put the interests of residents ahead of those of the providers, they will support the replacement of the current funding model with one that is based on a flat fee structure of low, medium or high care. This, in conjunction with a thorough re-wording of the Accreditation Standards and 44 Nursing Home Outcomes, whereby providers, residents and relatives would know exactly what is required in terms of resident care, would bring about a sea change in nursing homes.

    In 2005, the Senate Community Affairs Quality and Equity in Aged Care Inquiry recommended that the Accreditation Standards and Outcomes be re-worded to minimize ambiguity and thereby enable accurate measurement for the purposes of achieving transparency, scrutiny and accountability of the sector. Sadly, Recommendation 14 has not been implemented.

    On a personal note, I might add that at the time of writing this reply, my mother lies in a hospital bed as a direct result of her nursing home having failed to monitor her hydration, continence and temperature and for failing to diagnose the fact that she had yet another urinary tract infection. Why is it that I had to once again bring my mother’s ill health to the attention of the staff?

  4. Dave September 15, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

    Too much insight, Boyd.

    The protective nature of The Aged Care Act means there are no provisions to compensate the consumer for negligent or sub-standard care. The remedies for non-compliance make it clear that there are no circumstances in which a resident may receive compensation; only a reduction in fees by reason of a failure in service delivery on the part of the Provider.

    As for complaints, neither the Aged Care Commissioner nor the Commonwealth Ombudsman have no power to overturn a decision, only to require a reconsideration by the Department decision-makers. A new decision cannot be substituted. The Department maintains complete control of the process.

    The entire structure is toothless…just the way providers wanted it to be.

  5. Wendy Smith September 21, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

    I believe that all the power of control is in the hands of those making financial decisions.
    This should never happen with healthcare. If a client is unwell they are entitled to professional care and attention. End of story. The only reason it is complicated is when someone is trying to make a profit at the expense of the client’s wellbeing.

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