“ACFI Mark II” could reshape aged care

A benchmarked funding instrument could be expanded to fund all aged care consumers, industry body says.

The Rudd Government could take the “first steps” towards fundamental reform by aligning the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) with the cost of care, according to Catholic Health Australia (CHA).

The group wants the government to commission independent reviews every three to five years to determine the true cost of care.

In its submission to the government’s ACFI review, CHA said there was no process at the moment for measuring the effectiveness of care funding.

But CHA’s CEO, Martin Laverty said that when the ACFI was modified to match benchmarked care costs, it could  form the basis of a streamlined funding model for all aged care consumers.

“The ACFI is a model that, with improvement, could be extended into community care,” Mr Laverty said.

“In theory, ‘ACFI Mark II’, when enhanced and directly linked to the cost of providing care, would provide a suitable platform for a comprehensive, consolidated aged care funding model.”

“The ACFI is a mechanism that assesses the care needs of people living in residential aged care services today and as a platform, it could be used to assess all people requiring aged care, whether that be in a residential setting or in their own home.

“This would then give the consumer the ability to choose where and how they receive the care they require.”

Mr Laverty said elements of the Conditional Adjustment Payment (CAP), the packaged care programs and Home and Community Care (HACC) services could be “rolled into” the unified funding scheme.

The group’s ACFI submission also recommended changes to the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) process to remove the disparity between initial assessments and ACFI appraisals.

It said clashes between the gate-keeping and funding tools were leading to “frustration and friction” among its members.

CHA has previously suggested that the Commonwealth should take over the ACAT process and administer assessments through a series of aged care access centres in the community.

“When you think about the aged care system, you need to think about it from a consumers’ perspective,” Mr Laverty said.

“People first encounter the system when they themselves or a family member is looking for services, often in urgent circumstances.

“If you provide a single shopfront for entry into aged care, that is a good start but it’s not enough. You also have to consolidate access to the services that sit behind it – it’s all part of the one process.”

The recommendations tie in with CHA’s blueprint for community care released a fortnight ago, which outlined plans for a streamlined approach to assessments and care funding.

Tags: acat, acfi, aged-care, cha, community-care, review,

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