Above: Sue Macri AM
By Keryn Curtis, reporting from the Leading Age Services Queensland Conference.
Why isn’t there a trigger in the ACFI [Aged Care Funding Instrument] system to kick in the correct additional funding to provide the intensive care for things like end of life care?”
Sub-acute care, hospital prevention programs, palliative care, collaborations with Medicare Locals and teaching hospitals; this is one of the biggest areas of potential for the aged care sector in the future and aged services providers should be proactive in grasping the opportunities, according to a respected industry leader.
Former Associate Commissioner on the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into aged care, Caring for Older Australians, Sue Macri AM told the inaugural conference of Leading Age Services Queensland (LASAQ) on the Gold Coast on Wednesday they should be proactively, not reactively, developing collaborations and breaking down the silos across the wider health care system.
In a wide ranging review and reflection about the Productivity Commission’s original vision in it’s report, Caring for Older Australians, and the subsequent reform response from the government, Living Longer Living Better, Ms Macri said the Better Health Care Connections component of the reforms provided enormous potential for aged care providers, provided they were funded properly.
“The Better Health Care Connections program has committed $80.2 million over five years. This is one of the areas for this industry that will provide enormous potential going forward.
“There are really exciting opportunities for residential care providers to be providing care in the community in collaboration with teaching hospitals, sub acute specialised care like palliative care, taking people in for complex care like wound care, for short term periods and then returning them to their home.
“It’s great for the consumer, it’s great for the workforce and it’s where I think the future of the industry is. Firstly though, it must be funded properly,” said Ms Macri.
“There’s no way we can get in and do that level care without Medicare provider numbers. Why isn’t there a trigger in the ACFI [Aged Care Funding Instrument} system to kick in the correct additional funding to provide the intensive care for things like end of life care?” Ms Macri asked.
Reflections on reform
Reflecting on the Living Longer Living Better reform package, Ms Macri said other positives from the reforms included the removal of the distinction between high and low care, the establishment of a Gateway and the increased supply of home care services.
She also praised the consolidation and harmonisation of home care services and the recognition of the special needs of diverse groups in the community including the LGBTI community.
However Ms Macri said there were a number of missed opportunities in the response to the Productivity Commission’s comprehensive set of recommendations.
These missed opportunities included the establishment of an independent Aged Care Commission which she said would have reduced the continuing problem of red tape; the creation of a truly entitlement based assessment and funding system; the introduction of the home credit scheme and the pensioners savings account scheme to better enable contributions from consumers; and the removal of the service supply constraints.
“The continuation of the ACAR (Aged Care Approvals Round) rounds make it really difficult for new entrants wanting to come into community care.
“We were talking about the market driving competition but that will not happen under the current system,” Ms Macri said.
“My advice for the associations is to push for an entitlement system.”