By Tim Dixon
Aged care industry groups are optimistic about the Productivity Commission’s draft report on the care of older Australians.
Although much of the details are yet to be outlined, the sector’s two major peak bodies have welcomed the report’s recommendations.
The Acting CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ASCA), Pat Sparrow said the 500-page report had covered all the major issues confronting age care providers.
“We are pleased to see that it’s a comprehensive report and it seems to have touched on the longstanding issues that we have been raising over many years,” she said.
“It proposes a range of options to address the funding issues so that providers receive funding to deliver the care that they need and it also seems to be structured around fairness and equity issues for older people.”
Ms Sparrow praised proposals to remove the distinction between high and low care services in residential care, along with plans to provide a better continuum of care to community clients.
“We have still got to look through details but we have been saying those things should happen and they are included in the report, so we are happy about that,” she said.
The CEO of Aged Care Association Australia (ACAA), Rod Young welcomed proposals to introduce a bond scheme for pensioners and an equity release scheme that would give consumers more options for contributing to capital costs.
“I think this creates a range of opportunities and options for residents that haven’t been available in the past,” he said.
The aged care groups have cautiously welcomed plans to end the rationing of aged care places but they say the process for managing the transition to a more competitive market must be managed carefully.
Mr Young described the removal of licences as “the big issue” for providers at the moment.
“The commission recommended a five year timeframe for that and with the final report not available until June, we will probably be looking at about 2017 by the time that process would be complete,” he said.
“Some discussion needs to be held within the industry about whether that can be managed sensibly. We need to ensure that we don’t create financial harm to the industry while we undergo these processes.”
Ms Sparrow agreed, saying ACSA would work closely with the government to work through the implementation process.
“At this stage, we need to see a little bit more of the detail for that transiton period,” she said.
“The transition arrangements will be very important and it is going to be critical that we get the timing and order of things right.”