Senate committee embraces reform agenda

The report on aged care includes some recommendations for fundamental changes.

After examining 121 submissions and six hearings, the Senate Committee on Finance and Public Administration has acknowledged the desire for reform among aged care providers.

The committee’s 166-page-report following its extensive inquiry into aged care contains 31 unanimous recommendations for change.

Among the suggestions is the establishment of a national aged care forum which would report directly to the Minister for Health and Ageing, along with a taskforce to implement the forum’s determinations.

This taskforce would also work with the Department of Health and Ageing to conduct an “all-encompassing” review of the Aged Care Act.

The industry has welcomed the broad outlook of the recommendations.

“We are very supportive of the notion of comprehensive reform of aged care,” said the CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA).

“The senators clearly identified some deep seated problems which the sector faces.

“It’s underpinned our assertion that there are fundamental issues that need to be addressed.”

The committee called for a review of aged care funding indexation, a ‘stress test’ to determine the sector’s financial wellbeing and an analysis to benchmark the real cost of care provision.

The CEO of Aged Care Association Australia, Rod Young said these are in line with the industry’s concerns.

“We would certainly welcome any strategy which looks at the true cost of providing care,” he said.

“The lack of information in this area has been a big factor in the ongoing tension between the industry and the government for many years.”

The report also recommended that the costs of care and accommodation be “decoupled” in residential care.

But Mr Young noted there was no recommendation that appeared to address difficulties experienced by providers trying to meet their capital requirements.

“It will be interesting to see if the ‘decoupling’ of care and hotel/accommodation costs may lead to some improvements in this area.”

The call for reform in the committee’s findings echo the sentiments of recent reports from the Productivity Commission, Catholic Health Australia and the government’s own National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.

Click here to see a PDF of the committee’s report.

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