Provider calls for voucher system

Direct vouchers would give consumers more choice and eliminate a lot of red tape, says one community care provider.

A private home care provider has warned that government-funded care packages are “too complex and bureaucratic” for the informal carers of older people.

Home Instead Senior Care director, Martin Warner said there is currently too much red tape to negotiate before services can be accessed.

Mr Warner called on state and federal governments to adopt a model that gives consumers greater control of their own care.

He suggested the introduction of a cash payment or voucher system, similar to programs that have been adopted in European countries, like the Netherlands.

“People could use the vouchers to support their own family carer, hire the services of a professional care provider or maintain the status quo. It would give them choice and control over their lifestyle,” Mr Warner said.

“A sizeable chunk of the funds available under government packages are chewed up by bureaucratic administration costs.”

The Productivity Commission has recently identified cash entitlements as one of three ways to enhance choices for aged care clients.

Other options include targeted reforms to diversify existing services, such as providing more respite places and introducing active service HACC models, and pooled funding programs.

Speaking at the recent Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) national conference, commissioner Mike Woods said while direct cash entitlements should definitely be considered, there were several issues that need to be considered.

“You need to look at the decision-making capacity of the aged person as well as thinking about the appropriate regulatory settings for such a system,” Mr Wood said.

Mr Warner agreed that a voucher-type system would need to operate within an established framework to ensure the money was being spent properly and that the quality of care was adequate.

“I think that some people may want to have the option to stay with the current system but others will want to have a voucher or cash in their hand,” he said.

“What we need to do is give clients the choice of how they want to go about it and provide information and communication to ensure they are fully aware of all the options.”

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