Changes to the residential aged care sector’s funding tool proposed in a government-commissioned report will be outlined at an upcoming industry conference.
Applied Aged Care Solutions director Richard Rosewarne reviewed the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) including scrutinising clinical items and the tool’s design and looking at independent assessment options (read our background story here).
Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt confirmed in September he had received the final report and would further consult with the sector on its findings.
Dr Rosewarne will outline his recommendations to change ACFI at The COTA Next Phase of Aged Care Reform conference in Sydney in early November.
“I’ll be reporting on the impacts to the industry on the funding and care aspects of my ACFI change proposals. Put briefly, how much they’ll get paid and what they need to do to get it,” Dr Rosewarne told Australian Ageing Agenda in an exclusive conference preview.
Dr Rosewarne said he expected Minister Wyatt to release the report “any day now, perhaps even at the conference” although he was unsure whether the release would come with a firm government response.
“Both the government and industry agreed – though for different reasons – that ACFI needed to be reviewed to provide a more contemporary model,” Dr Rosewarne said.
“Some of the proposed changes are fundamental, such as clarifying definitions of physical assistance in activities of daily living areas and mandating assessment that should have been done anyway.”
He said the behavioural sections would be more straightforward, such as moving depression into complex health care and moving medication on its own into complex health care.
“It will be expected that for any claim for medication assistance, there will have been a three-monthly comprehensive assessment by a nurse on its own, not as part of a care plan. That’s a big change.
“There will also be big changes in pain management enabling broad-based therapy care for all residents, regardless of care needs, to be provided by a range of relevant therapists including exercise physiologists.
“Physical therapy is what the industry wants and is best practice,” Dr Rosewarne said.
He conceded that the industry may criticise any ACFI variations as being yet another change ahead of long-term funding model changes, which are currently being investigated by a team from the University of Wollongong and “will take four to five years to do properly.”
“The department wanted a viable medium-term option to reduce areas of disagreement between them and the sector,” he said.
“My report hopefully will do this, but there’s no guarantee it will happen.”
In addition to a solo presentation on ACFI, Dr Rosewarne will appear on a panel discussing the future of residential aged care funding with Michael Colane from the Department of Health, Grant Corderoy from StewartBrown and Professor Mike Woods from the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the University of Technology Sydney.
The session aimed to be a platform for funding options to be suggested and robustly discussed, said Ian Yates, chief executive of COTA Australia, which is co-hosting the event with Criterion.
“We are looking for the income level that will make residential aged care financially sustainable over the medium to longer term, noting the probable need for higher wages overall and a trend to higher acuity and shorter length of stay,” Mr Yates told AAA.
The funding model would also cover the reasons for the differences in operating costs and financial performance between different cohorts of providers, the right funding mix between government and consumers and the opportunities for extra service income derived from genuine additional services, he said.
The COTA Next Phase of Aged Care Reform conference takes place on 1 – 2 November at the Sydney Boulevard Hotel.
Australian Ageing Agenda is the media partner of the conference.
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