The creation of a “single aged care system” would see the distinction between home care and residential care removed, with consumers free to move between the two, under new changes that could begin in as soon as five years.
Under the shake-up of the aged care system put forward by the Aged Care Sector Committee, the government-appointed body of providers, consumers and professionals, aged care places and prices would be deregulated, while the number of services providing aged care would increase under a streamlined process in which a broader category of “registered providers” would replace approved providers.
Only registered providers would be eligible to receive government contributions to aged care.
The committee’s Aged Care Roadmap, released by the Department of Social Services yesterday, was informed by previous major reviews such as the National Aged Care Alliance’s reform blueprints and the Productivity Commission’s 2011 inquiry, both of which argued for a market-based, consumer-driven aged care system.
Under the changes, the current allocation of residential aged care places via the Aged Care Approvals Round would cease within five years, while the supply of places would be uncapped within seven years.
While the government would publish a guideline market price for both care and accommodation, it would not regulate the actual prices providers charge or what consumers choose to pay.
Consumers would be able to use their government contribution and/or their own money with any registered provider of their choice. Older people would receive the same government contribution regardless of whether they’re receiving care at home or in an aged care facility.
Services targeting special needs groups, or those operating in areas of so-called market failure, would continue to receive dedicated government funding, under the changes.
The quality framework in aged care would be streamlined, with the introduction of a “single set of core aged care standards” operating across settings, while “co-regulation” and “earned autonomy” for providers would be fully developed and implemented.
The roadmap also recommended a single assessment framework covering eligibility and care needs, measures to bolster the sector’s workforce, and some dementia-specific initiatives.
While the roadmap has the near universal support of aged care providers, consumer groups and professional bodies, the Federal Government is yet to articulate its response to the proposals.
However, some stakeholders are hopeful that the upcoming federal Budget on 3 May will contain a couple of initial measures from the roadmap, so as to confirm the next stages of reform.
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