Looking ahead: what aged care stakeholders want achieved in 2016

With the government having signalled the next reforms to commence in 2017, many are hopeful that 2016 will be a year of action and preparation for change.

With the Federal Government having already signalled the next changes in community aged care to commence in 2017, many are hopeful that 2016 will be a year where providers come to terms with the implications of those changes so as to be prepared for greater consumer control.

Others are also eager for providers, stakeholders and government to go further and agree on the next wave of reforms to transform aged care – particularly around lifting supply on places.

In this follow-up to our year in review article published on Wednesday, providers, peak bodies and consumers tell Australian Ageing Agenda what they hope to see achieved in aged care in 2016.

Suzanne Greenwood
Suzanne Greenwood

Year of action

Suzanne Greenwood, CEO of Catholic Health Australia, said she looked forward to 2016 being a year where the sector grasped the challenges and changes that February 2017 will bring to their home care business models, “and we will learn more about how the merging of home care and home support rollout from 1 July 2018.”

Aged and Community Services Australia CEO John Kelly said he hoped to see “increased and earlier consultation with providers on aspects of the reform agenda” moving forward, as well as finalisation and commitment to the reform roadmap developed by the Aged Care Sector Committee.

Similarly, Patrick Reid, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia said the roadmap was with Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley and with a federal election on the horizon “we expect it will be given due consideration ahead of the next stage of reforms.”

Ian Yates
Ian Yates

Ian Yates, chief executive of Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia said he wanted to see the roadmap adopted by the Federal Government and the opposition. Further, he said he wanted to see an announcement in the 2016 federal budget of the timetable for the implementation of measures so aged care consumers can “take their residential care bed licence to the provider of their choice.”

Mr Yates said he was also hopeful of an announcement in next year’s budget of “the timetable for the lifting of supply constraints on the provision of aged care packages and bed licences to all consumers assessed as in need through My Aged Care.”

Understanding quality

Mr Reid said LASA was keen to see a debate about quality continue throughout 2016 and remain a key pillar strategically and operationally for government, providers and consumers.

Patrick Reid
Patrick Reid

“Along with a revision of the standards against current practice there is the 2015 budget outcome for full cost recovery of $30.7 million from providers, but with the additional opportunity for new providers of accreditation apart from the Quality Agency. There is no reason why we cannot create a quality framework that safeguards standards and innovation without unnecessary regulatory red tape and compliance,” Mr Reid said.

Carol Bennett, CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia, said she was also hoping for a continued focus on quality in 2016.

“We would like to see the implementation of at least one quality measure of consumer experience of aged care services, which can then lead to improving system performance. This should be broader than clinical outcomes,” Ms Bennett said.

Information for consumers

Carol Bennett
Carol Bennett

Ms Bennett also highlighted the need to improve provision of information to consumers as an area requiring work in 2016.

“Genuine consumer-led care for people with dementia can be delivered only when consumers are enabled to be partners in the decision-making process. If we are serious about consumer-directed care, we need to ensure that consumers are involved in all aspects of the design, delivery and measurement of care from their own perspective. For this to happen, consumers need good information,” she said.

Ms Bennett said stakeholders need to ensure that consumer experience drives improvements in the aged care system, “and we can only do that by having mechanisms in place to ensure the consumer voice is heard and measured.”

Echoing this, Mr Yates said he hoped to see the 2016 budget contain an announcement committing  a “Consumer Support and Development Platform” as the final piece in the aged care reform package [see Mr Yate’s proposal outlined in the forthcoming Jan-Feb 2016 issue of AAA magazine].

Addressing palliative care

Liz Callaghan
Liz Callaghan

Liz Callaghan, CEO, Palliative Care Australia, said the top of her wishlist for 2016 was an acknowledgement by all levels of government of the need to remove the barriers to accessing palliative and end-of-life care.

“This requires cooperation between states and territories and the Commonwealth and I believe there is a growing opportunity for change as current reviews including the Reform of the Federation, the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review, the Primary Health Care Review and the Private Health Insurance Review are all brought together in a manner that improves services and reduces fragmentation across the health sector,” Ms Callaghan said.

Ms Callaghan said she would also like to see My Aged Care reach its full potential next year, and pointed to the current absence of questions about advance care planning documents or discussions in the assessment process.

“Every person who has an interaction with any aspect of the health or aged care system should have an advance care planning discussion. Accessing these conversations and planning documents will become easier next year with the opt out approach to My Health Record being put in place and the introduction of the advance care planning module around March next year,” said Ms Callaghan.

Andrew Larpent
Andrew Larpent

Greater integration

Andrew Larpent, CEO, Southern Cross Care SA & NT said he too wanted to see greater integration across the health and aged care sectors.

“We would very much like to see real progress towards much closer alignment between health and aged care systems. The gap is still too wide and we must work better together across boundaries to achieve a more integrated primary health and support system that is inclusive of aged care services and better reflects the needs and aspirations of the older person,” Mr Larpent said.

Russell Bricknell
Russell Bricknell

Russell Bricknell, CEO of Aged Care Channel, said that given the amount of change in recent times, he wanted to see the industry “prioritise and support more meaningful and considered responses rather than the current status of reactions.”

“A year to take stock and evaluate what is going right and where we can improve. At the core is our purpose that should always drive our industry, which is to provide the best care possible to older people,” said Mr Bricknell.

Related AAA coverage: Year in review – sector leaders nominate their highs and lows of 2015

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Tags: aged-and-community-services-australia, aged-care-channel, alzheimers-australia, andrew-larpent, carol-bennett, catholic-health-australia, council-on-the-ageing, ian-yates, john-kelly, leading-age-services-australia, Liz Callaghan, palliative-care-australia, patrick-reid, russell-bricknell, slider, Southern Cross Care SA & NT, Suzanne Greenwood,

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