The Department of Health is calling on aged care providers and peak bodies to complete a survey about unused residential aged care places. 

The department is seeking to understand why places are offline, a term given to bed licenses allocated to providers through the Aged Care Approvals Round but not currently in use such as because of renovations or rebuilding of facilities.

There were almost 8,000 offline residential aged care places at 30 June 2016, according to the department.

While recognising there were valid reasons why aged care places were not filled at any particular point in time, responses to the Residential Care Offline Places Review will provide clarification and allow the development of a suitable management policy, the department said.

David Tune recommended the Government review how offline residential care places were managed in the final report of the Aged Care Legislated Review (read more here).

StewartBrown senior partner Grant Corderoy said the department’s invitation to participate in the review was a “positive initiative.”

However, he said he hoped the review would not result in a “blanket rule” for all places.

“Blanket rules as with any rules, can stifle innovation and the ability to meet a changing market,” Mr Corderoy told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The review should take the opportunity to assist providers to meet these demands by allowing greater flexibility than just residential or home places.”

Grant Corderoy
Grant Corderoy

The Tune Review also recommended the Government allow for the reallocation of unused residential care places to home care packages.

Mr Corderoy said if places were offline due to financial or zoning issues, providers should first be assisted to relocate those places to another residential aged care facility.

“If those providers were unable to relocate those places, then the next reallocation should be to those providers who were unsuccessful in the most recent ACAR.

“We suggest that the residential aged care places that are allocated to home care packages be at a Level 5 funding level and should be able to be either utilised in aged care or in the community,” Mr Corderoy said.

The current review of residential offline places is an addition to existing reporting requirements for aged care providers to inform the department annually about offline places, including why they are offline and when they are expected to come back on-line.

The survey closes on 7 December. Access it here.

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