It will cost the Federal Government an additional $7 billion a year to revamp the aged care system to ensure all older Australians receive the support they need to remain active, independent and engaged, according to a new report.
Independent think tank the Grattan Institute has proposed Australia move to a new rights-based model of aged care because the current approach “is a mess and is not fit for purpose.”
But before moving to Grattan’s model, the government should immediately create a $1 billion “rescue fund” to force the worst residential aged care providers to lift their quality or get out, according to the report.
Reforming Aged Care: A practical plan for a rights-based system outlines three key changes needed to guarantee care and support for all who need it, which includes:
- universal access to care
- face-to-face help for seniors to obtain a range of diverse and high-quality services
- enhanced independence of older people through social participation programs and better integration between the health and aged care systems.
Grattan is calling on the federal government to create a new Aged Care Act to enshrine a rights-based system that will require an additional $7 billion, which is a 35 per cent boost on current spending.
It recommends introducing individualised care planning for assessment, planning and funding of residential and home aged care services, beginning with a trial in Tasmania and South Australia in 2021 ahead of a national roll out in 2023 and at an estimated $600 million annual cost.
It also recommends residents contribute to their everyday living and accommodation via a rental fee, which would be means-tested so some residents might pay less or nothing.
Lead author and Grattan Institute Health Program Director Stephen Duckett said Australians already have universal access to health care and disability support via Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme respectively.
“It’s time older Australians had universal access to aged care,” Mr Duckett said.
He said Australians should be ashamed of some aspects of the current aged care system.
“Our report is a blueprint for something we could all be proud of – an aged care system that protects the rights, upholds the dignity, and celebrates the contribution of older Australians,” he said.
The report also recommends residential aged care homes meet minimum staffing ratios with 24-hour nursing supervision by 2023, costing approximately $1.5 billion a year.
It suggests developing a new public reporting system that better monitors and provides information on the quality of service providers to maximise consumer choice.
Other recommendations include:
- 30 new independent bodies across Australia that act as regional ‘system managers’ of each local service system
- Commonwealth, state and regional agreements with system managers to better integrate healthcare, housing, and related welfare services, by 2022
- a national system steward of overall performance and equity by 2023
- a universal entitlement to funding for reasonable and necessary care outlined in individualised support plans to provide higher-level support at home.
Access the report here.