A petition calling for allied health services to be included in the residential aged care funding tool has collected almost 500 signatures in less than a week.
Aged care allied health provider Guide Healthcare launched the change.org petition on Monday to encourage aged care services minister Richard Colbeck to reconsider allied health in the proposed Australian National Aged Care Classification or alternative new funding tool.
Guide Healthcare director Simon Kerrigan said he launched the petition to be proactive in creating change for allied health in aged care.
“I’ve got a real concern with the AN-ACC in its current form that allied health professionals are going to severely be limited because we know services that aren’t directly funded in aged care, they are not prioritised,” Mr Kerrigan told Australian Ageing Agenda.
The AN-ACC is a casemix classification funding model developed by University of Wollongong as part of the Resource Utilisation and Classification Study to replace the Aged Care Funding Instrument.
Assessors began independent shadow assessments this month as part of a 12-month trial.
Amending the AN-ACC to include physical therapy subsidy would be worthwhile for the sector, Mr Kerrigan said.
“They’ve already done the costing for it, which is essentially [removing] the pain management components of ACFI and redirecting that into this physical therapy subsidy.
“I can’t see why that can’t be just patched on to the AN-ACC, or included as part of the AN-ACC as a separate subsidy in order to make sure that residents have access to the allied health services that they need and deserve,” Mr Kerrigan said.
The current aged care funding tool provides for very limited allied health services, such as heat packs, massage and technical equipment, and is widely considered inadequate.
The aged care royal commissioners provided their support for a casemix funding tool such as the AN-ACC and recommended funding for needs-based allied health services in both residential and home aged care that is not limited by narrow constraints of a funding tool.
Provider alliance Australian Aged Care Collaboration have called for funding for approved providers to engage with allied heath professionals based on a blended funding model by July 2024 in support of the commissioners’ recommendations.
This timeline is “concerning” Mr Kerrigan said.
“If the tool is introduced prior to that period, I can’t see any major change occurring to it. In the first 12 months, two years or three years, they’ll let it be introduced and settled prior to making any significant changes. So we need to pressure them now. We need to try and push for change now,” he said.
The petition received more than 300 signatures in the first 24 hours from people joining the call change, Mr Kerrigan said.
The petition has 492 signatures at the time of publishing on Friday at 8am.
“We have an opportunity now that the system is changing to create a better model and the people who are going to get the most benefit out of it is the residents.”
Find out more about the petition.