The PC is all ears

The Productivity Commission has proved to be an able and informed listener at a forum convened by a major NSW and ACT provider yesterday

A major provider in New South Wales and the ACT has expressed encouragement and optimism about the Productivity Commission’s (PC) national inquiry into aged care following a forum held in Wollongong, New South Wales, yesterday.

Nieves Murray, the chief executive of IRT which hosted the event, said the commissioners and their staff were clearly well informed and aware of the issues and challenges facing the sector.

“Aged care is becoming a prominent issue in the wake of a growing aged population and media reports highlighting the failures that some frail elders endure,” said Ms Murray.

“The commission staff were obviously very aware of the challenges […], asking questions to various audience members on solutions or comments on the suggestions.”

The forum was attended by the Productivity Commission’s presiding commissioner Mike Woods, assistant commissioner, Sue Macri and other PC staff, as well as a broad-ranging audience of more than 60 people including representatives from peak body groups, profit and not-for-profit organisations, researchers, the health insurance industry and IRT residents.

Ms Murray facilitated the discussions with the assistance of a panel of speakers including Mark Sewell, CEO of Warrigal Care; Pat Sparrow, National Policy Manager & Deputy CEO at Aged and Community Services Australia; Head of Retirement and Aged Care at Manchester Unity (part of the HCF Group), Matthew Johnson; and IRT Area Manager, Eurobodalla, Helen Spence.

Ms Murray said some of the main suggestions from the forum included:

separating care and accommodation funding, 

simplifying the entry points to the aged care system, 

ensuring needs assessments build on the seniors’ existing well-being information with the emphasis on what they need to remain independent and capable

having an inter-government, bipartisan approach to reforms to address fragmentation, duplication and demarcation of services and ensure the longevity of the sector.

Warrigal Care’s CEO, Mark Sewell said he was delighted to join the panel discussions and to express his concerns about the stressors on non-profit providers in particular.

“Providers of services to older people are caught in the sandwich between government and consumers as they seek to provide high quality services in an environment where government funding does not meet the real costs of care and regulation is continually increasing,” Mr Sewell said.

He said a partnership was required between providers and the government to meet the needs of older people.

“The government has a responsibility to ensure supply and quality but both of these are now problematic. With regulation at unprecendented levels, the policy framework is now not enabling but strangulating.”

“We asked the Productivity Commission to recommend to the government to do what it does best, what we can’t do: to reduce the complexity of the system; to target the quality systems toward managing risk with consumers choosing their own preferences; and to make the sector more sustainable by enabling flexible payment options where those who can afford to, can pay but there adequate funding for those who can’t.” 

Manchester Unity’s Matthew Johnson said the industry was on the verge of crisis in many areas, as indicated by the 25 per cent of providers reporting they are trailing financially.

“In any other sector when this happens it is a crisis. We’re in a position where we can use other sources of income to support our aged care sector but not everyone can do that,” he said.

“I was encouraged by the commission’s approach to the reform process, particularly their understanding of the sector and their approach to solutions which focus on care for the older person, not just the system.”

Ms Murray said IRT was keen for the result of the inquiry to make aged care simple for seniors, straightforward for providers, efficient for Government and a thriving and effective sector.

“We’ve provided the commission with our submission and now we’re offering to do some more in-depth modeling in order for the reforms to have greater evidence-based support,” she said.

Ms Murray encouraged other providers, seniors and those interested in aged care to write a submission or present their own ideas to the Productivity Commission.

“We hope the outcome of the inquiry is a framework that empowers older people; that supports independence rather than dependence and funds a collaborative approach to supporting seniors in our community,” she said.

Tags: accommodation, aged-care, care, commissioner, irt, manchester-unity, mark-sewell, matthew-johnson, mike-woods, nieves-murray, productivity-commission, sue-macri, warrigal-care,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *