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Cap on aged care beds will stay in place until rural issues solved: Wyatt

The Federal Government has ruled out the full deregulation of residential aged care places until adequate safeguards can be put in place ensuring provision of care in regional and rural Australia.

Aged care providers and consumer groups are lobbying for the Commonwealth to uncap the supply of residential beds, which are currently allocated on an annual basis to providers.

They argue the regulation of places leads to oversupply of beds in some areas and undersupply in others, which means some older people miss out on residential aged care.

The multi-stakeholder group advising government on future reforms, the Aged Care Sector Committee, proposed the full deregulation of both aged care places and prices in its Aged Care Roadmap in April.

But speaking at the Australian Association of Gerontology national conference on Wednesday Assistant Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the government would not deregulate beds until there was “a secure model for rural and regional Australia.”

“I want to protect country towns and rural populations, otherwise if we deregulate completely likely see country towns die,” he told the Canberra audience.

Asked when the government would move to implement consumer directed care into residential aged care, Mr Wyatt did not give a firm commitment to the proposal, but acknowledged that there were currently waiting lists for aged care places in some areas which limited choice for consumers.

“But as we move forward and providers start to think what they have to offer and how they can attract people I think will see a paradigm shift in what is offered,” he said.

“I would hope providers will start to think base services they provide but what are additional services they will include to residents.”

Focus on special needs groups

Elsewhere Mr Wyatt made it clear that any future reforms would need to consider special needs groups, such as Aboriginal seniors, veterans and LGBTI seniors, as well as those living in rural and remote areas.

“These groups often have complex and unique needs and we require an environment that fosters innovation and in which providers can develop and deliver tailored services,” he said.

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2 Responses to Cap on aged care beds will stay in place until rural issues solved: Wyatt

  1. Graeme Croft November 4, 2016 at 3:37 pm #

    The current ratio of bed licenses to population severely stifles innovation and is limiting new competition in the sector !!
    It is a fact that LGA’s that currently meet the required government ratio face no new competition or the need for innovation by existing service providers .
    I cannot see how increased competition can adversely affect consumers other than provide them with increased choice.
    If issues arise over the supply of places in rural and remote areas, federal government can initiate targeted financial incentives for capital works or recurrent expenditure.
    As a fiscal balance, a limit on daily federal subsidies should apply, whilst removing the limits on daily charges to consumers..
    This same system has allowed the Child Care industry to flourish, the same is needed in Residential Aged Care.
    Tweaking ACFI in my view does nothing to improve innovation, or competition, but will result in even more complex paperwork, that results in less nursing time devoted to resident care.

  2. Maria Berry November 4, 2016 at 9:29 pm #

    People think we are resilient in the country and regional areas . But we are not. We are isolated with factors such as distance , transport and availablity of services . We are limited with choice as choice is limited. We have a long way to go with protecting our ageing population in regional and isolated areas. We are just only starting to scratch the surface as a lot of statistics in these areas are just not available. We also have the silent older generation out there, don’t make a fuss…and certainly don’t voice up . Many can’t tap into a computer. After a career working as a Nurse in Aged Care I can honestly say , we need some laws to enable protection of our older people. (This will hopefully start to happen with the Australian Commission into law reforms on Elder Abuse – a great starting point) . We have not got it right yet …such a long way off with the issues in Residential Aged Care facilities. We need to look at rights of the person, a person centred care approach , education and awareness , a massive culture change as to how we treat older people , how we staff and plan ….it goes on. Until we seriously look at the current issues we have with a realistic view, we can’t move ahead and plan ahead . Change takes a lot of work…it’s a team effort with the same goal. Unfortunately change always comes from some of the horrific mistakes we make .

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