Pressure mounts for aged care reform in 2012

Aged care providers, consumers, peak bodies, unions, employers and advocacy groups are stepping up the pressure with campaigns and reports calling for urgent reforms for aged care in this year’s budget.

Above: IRT’s chief executive, Neives Murray, adding weight to the call for reform.

One of Australia’s largest community-based seniors lifestyle and care providers has added its weight to the almost daily campaigning for the implementation of the Productivity Commission’s proposed reforms to the aged care system in Australia.

Referring to the findings of a recent report by Grant Thornton Australia which showed that the returns generated by aged care providers are preventing further investment in building new facilities, IRT chief executive, Nieves Murray, said urgent reform was required across the aged-care sector, and called for the government to implement the reforms recommended from the Productivity Commission’s Caring for Older Australians report.

“Without long-term financial security across the aged care sector, investment will not meet the demand to create the quality communities seniors need. The current funding model for residential aged care is outdated and it is not in keeping with the expectations of today’s seniors – who want modern amenities including individual rooms with ensuites,” Ms Murray said.

“A secure future for aged care residential services can only be provided if flexibility is introduced into the funding arrangements. The Productivity Commission has called for the removal of distinction between low and high care places, and that change will allow providers to deliver more targeted solutions for seniors.

“The Grant Thornton Australia Cost of Residential Aged Care Research report shows not-for-profit aged care providers in Australia, like IRT, face a shortfall of up to $46 for each high-care bed they operate – every day of the year. For an operator like IRT with over 450 high-care beds, this is a funding gap of around $7.5 million a year.

“In the Wollongong Local Government Area we will see a 72 per cent increase in people over the age of 65 in the next 25 years, while by 2047 there will be four-fold increase in the number of people aged over 85. As an industry we need to be prepared to respond to the demands of the community and widespread reform is the only way we can achieve it,” Ms Murray said.

Campaign highlights

Meanwhile the National Aged Care Alliance (NACA) –  the influential umbrella group representing a coalition of  all the major stakeholders in the ageing agenda – is lauching its blueprint for reform this Thursday morning at a breakfast being held at Parliament House in Canberra.

The blueprint, Australians Deserve to Age Well – Preparing for Our Future Now, is the culmination of considerable research and analysis within the NACA membership.  It will be launched in conjunction with the Parliamentary Friends of Seniors, in front of an audience of politicians at Parliament House.

The blueprint is just part of the wider campaign stressing the need for reform.  A centrepiece is the new AgeWell campaign website which aims to raise public awareness and educate the wider community about the need for and the process of reform.

Non-NACA members are invited to support the cause by visiting the website, www.agewellcampaign.com.au, and registering as a campaign supporter.  Aged care providers and members of the general public can also upload their stories and share their thoughts about the need for reform on the site; ‘like’ the campaign on Facebook and tweet about the campaign on Twitter.

A series of papers on different aspects of the reform process – The Aged Care Reform Series – has been developed in recent months to provide additional advice to Government as it considers the proposed aged care reforms from the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Caring for Older Australians.  These papers can be downloaded individually from the NACA website. Titles include: Assessment and entitlement (including the Gateway) ;Financing aged care in Australia; Palliative care;  Quality of care; Wellness; and Workforce.

Read the AAA story about the NACA Campaign here.

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