By Yasmin Noone
The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) has responded to the sector’s concerns over this year’s Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR), clarifying confusion over how it arrived at the recently released state allocation figures.
Yesterday afternoon, the federal department responded to AAA’s article The Department has lost control (published on Tuesday) with an exclusive statement.
The response, which attempts to demystify commonly held views on ACAR calculations, was provided late as the department was unable to meet the original deadline.
A spokesperson for the department reasoned that, despite popular belief, ACAR places were not re-allocated from one state to another, and the number and distribution of aged care places in each ACAR is not based on a five-year plan.
“The number and type of places offered in each state and territory in an ACAR is determined by a range of factors, including the national planning benchmark, population projections, the outcomes of previous rounds, and the level of current and future service provision in each state and territory,” a Department of Health and Ageing spokesperson said.
“Aged Care Planning Advisory Committees (ACPAC) also provide advice on the number and distribution of places in each jurisdiction.
“The figures referred to in the article come from the 2009-10 Aged Care Approvals Round Essential Guide. These figures were indicative places only and based on future projections available at the time the 2009-10 ACAR was advertised (that is, January 2010).
“As is the standard practice, the figures have been refined to reflect the advice received from the aged care industry and ACPACs and the annual stock take of places.
“In the 2009-10 ACAR, the government allocated a large number of additional community care packages, predominantly in states where the demand for residential care was not taken up by providers.
“This effectively brought forward packages which would not have been allocated until the 2011 ACAR. As a result, there is a greater focus on residential care places in this ACAR.”
The department’s comments come after several sector leaders questioned the 2011 ACAR distribution, wondering why the government had not allocated the number of residential places and care packages, per state, as it promised in its ACAR indicative plan.
The sector also expressed discontent with the actual figures, saying there was a clear mismatch between what each state actually needs and what was allocated.
It was for this reason that the CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (WA), Stephen Kobelke, said the department had “lost control” of ACAR.
Mr Kobelke said he was also concerned over the fact that his state was given too few residential spots and community care packages.
Made aware of the department’s response, Mr Kobelke made the following statement: “The story that AAA published [on Tuesday] covered the issues well,” he said. “We don’t feel we can add to that story. The department’s performance is on the record and everyone can see it.”
CEO of Amaroo Care Services, David Fenwick, said he supports Mr Kobelke’s comments and wishes to ask the department one more question: “Why bother publishing indicative allocations from one year to the next two to three years if the DoHA isn’t going to follow through?” Mr Fenwick said.
“To say that there is an overwhelming demand for community care places in WA may be true, however maybe that is all that providers can realistically afford to apply for because they simply cannot afford to build the places needed.
“Hence, WA is at least 2,600 beds short of where we should be according to population planning ratios for people over 70 years old and the prospect of this figure blows out to 3,500 after this ACAR.
“So precisely what is the DoHA doing to address the increasing bed shortage in WA?”
The department put forward its point of view on the 2011 WA allocation in the statement provided. A spokesperson said the figures “…took into account local circumstances, including the under allocation of residential care places in recent ACARs. Additional high care community places are being offered in WA in recognition of demand for these services.”
The department also highlighted the total number of places being offered in the 2011 ACAR is actually more than what the indicative plan recommended.
“The [12,191 total number of places] comprising 10,493 residential care places and 1,698 community care places) significantly exceeds the indicative number of places identified in the 2009-10 Essential Guide (10,374 places comprising 9,076 residential care places and 1,298 community care places).”