CDC in residential ‘a different kettle of fish’ to home care: Tune

Consumer directed residential care is practically challenging to implement and cannot happen until consumers are educated about the value of services and subsidies, a national aged care conference has heard this week.

From left: Lynda O’Grady, Dagmar Parsons, Andrea Coote, MC Norman Swan, Michael Culhane, David Tune and Sean Rooney

Consumer directed residential care is practically challenging to implement and cannot happen until consumers are educated about the value of services and subsidies, a national aged care conference has heard this week.

While discussing past and future reforms at yesterday’s Leading Age Services Australia’s national congress, a panel of aged care stakeholders were asked what consumer directed care in residential care would look like.

Aged Care Sector Committee chair David Tune, who undertook the recent review of aged care reforms, said the concept of consumer choice and control would be complex to implement in residential care and the sector needed to think through how it would operate.

“Quite a bit of work needs to be done on this actually; it’s a different kettle of fish between home care packages and residential care,” Mr Tune told the Gold Coast audience.

The funding for care would still go to the provider, as chosen by the consumer, but clients would have a greater say over that funding, he said.

“Whether that would make a big difference at the end of the day is a moot point. It may only happen at the margins,” Mr Tune told the Gold Coast audience.

He said the sector was still learning from the move to consumer choice and control in home care packages and whether people were moving their funding to another provider.

It would be harder for consumers to move their money in the residential care sector because people tended to stay in a facility once they were there, Mr Tune said.

“I don’t want to be flippant about it but I suspect to some extent it is an issue of symbolism and for the vast majority of consumers it probably won’t be an issue.”

However, as consumers evolve, that could change over time, he said.

LASA CEO Sean Rooney said home care reform showed that client choice and control was “conceptually appealing” but “very challenging” to implement.

“We are learning at the moment that it is one thing to say consumers have choice but another to actually deliver that,” Mr Rooney said.

On the demand side, part of the issue is consumers being able to understand a complex system and then having the support to make informed choices. While on the supply side, CDC in residential would be a transformational change to the way the industry currently operates, he said.

“Therefore there are a whole lot of other practicalities that need to be worked through and it doesn’t seem apparent as to how you would actually do that,” Mr Rooney said.

On the failure of consumers to be well-informed, Department of Health acting first assistant secretary Michael Culhane, said the government would continue to focus on using My Aged Care as the platform to inform consumer decision-making.

Increased competition is another policy lever government is using to encourage providers to become more responsive to consumers, he said.

“It is early days for home care in terms of that. The latest reforms have been in place for six months but already you can see providers are becoming more responsive to what consumers want in the home care space,” said Mr Culhane.

Aged Care Financing Authority chair Lynda O’Grady said an important recommendation in the Tune report is that government should inform consumers of the value of the subsidy provided for their care.

In a market-based industry, consumers needed to be educated on what services are available, the pricing and particularly the value and eligibility of government subsidies, she said.

Australian Ageing Agenda was a media partner for the conference.

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Tags: david-tune, lasa, lasa 2017, leading-age-services-australia, lynda-ogrady, michael-culhane, Sean Rooney,

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