Extend care continuum model more widely, says paper

A discussion document commissioned by Ryman Healthcare lays out a blueprint for reforming Australia’s aged care sector.

A discussion paper commissioned by New Zealand’s largest retirement living and aged care provider Ryman Healthcare lays out a blueprint for reforming Australia’s aged care sector.

It suggests Australia adopt a continuum of care model, where retirement living and aged care services are integrated within one village community – a design widely embraced across the ditch.

Ryman Healthcare operates 38 retirement villages in New Zealand as well as seven in Victoria, which all include aged care centres. Ryman Healthcare is the biggest operator in NZ and the next four largest operators in the country – Bupa, Oceania, Arvida and Summerset – also provide a care offering in 70-80 per cent of their sites, according to the paper.

By contrast less than a third of Australia’s retirement villages have an aged care home collocated or in close proximity, according to the latest PWC/Property Council retirement census.

According to the document’s authors, if Australia were to adopt a continuum of care set-up more boradly it would reduce the cost of aged care on the taxpayer, alleviate pressure on the public health system and provide a better quality of care for senior Australians.

“The [Australian] system is both unprofitable and underfunded,” reads the document, A solution for Australia’s aged care system – Continuum of Care. “Concurrently, the population is ageing, with the number of Australians aged 85 and beyond estimated to rise by 1.5 million by 2058.”

Describing Australia’s aged care system as “fundamentally broken”, Ryman Healthcare Australia CEO Cameron Holland said it was critical the sector change in order to meet future demand. “The need to rethink our entire approach couldn’t be more urgent.”

Among the discussion document’s key suggestions, Australia should:

  • establish a national regulatory regime to govern the retirement living and aged care sectors as one
  • create greater incentives in planning systems for integrated retirement living and aged care facilities
  • introduce a specific home care package for retirement villages to help residents live independently for longer.

Tried and tested solution

“There are numerous potential ways to address the issues in Australia’s aged care system, but most come at a substantial cost,” reads the 32-page report. “Continuum of care is but one model that offers a tried and tested solution to support the delivery of the Australian Government’s aged care reform agenda, with proven long-term financial sustainability.”

Cameron Holland

The model means Ryman Healthcare’s retirement living residents can age in place, said Mr Holland. “People downsizing into a retirement community to live independently know that if their or their partner’s health needs change in the future, they can access aged care right where they are.”

An integrated approach is also beneficial for providers, added Mr Holland. “Capital investment, cost and income streams are diversified across a number of accommodation and service types that suit each life stage. This diversity improves the quality of investment and therefore quality outcomes for all stakeholders.”

The Kiwi model is a “win, win, win” for customers, providers and the government, said Mr Holland “and will spur much-needed investment in a sector that will see massive growth in demand in the coming decades.”

StewartBrown data released this month estimates the cost of creating a sustainable aged care system in Australia sits at more than $9 billion per year; $1.74 billion to address home care issues and $7.61 billion to improve residential aged care.

Source: StewartBrown

With government budgets unable to meet the level of reform needed to create a world-class aged care industry, the private sector must play a role to futureproof the sector,” said Mr Holland.

“The approach New Zealand has taken has fostered the investment and innovation the sector needs to meet the growing demand for quality care and has taken a huge weight off the government’s shoulders. There’s no reason why Australia can’t follow suit.”

Main image: Ryman Healthcare’s Nellie Melba Retirement Village in Melbourne

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Tags: Cameron Holland, continuum of care, featured, new zealand, ryman healthcare,

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